Adler-Olsen, Jussi. “The Washington Decree: A Novel”, translated by Steve Schein, Dutton, 2018.
America in Chaos
Five very different people came together some sixteen years before Democratic Senator Bruce Jansen was elected president of the United States. This was due to a stunt in public relations. They are fourteen-year-old Dorothy “Doggie” Rogers, small-town sheriff T. Perkins, single mother Rosalie Lee, well-known journalist John Bugatti, and the teenage son of one of Jansen’s employees, Wesley Barefoot. They were all different and were held together by both their devotion to Jansen and shared experiences.
Doggie saw Jansen’s election as a personal victory for which she would be rewarded with a job in the White House. She wanted to prove to her Republican father that she was right to support Jansen who is an intelligent, clear-headed leader with her same ideals. However, the presidential triumph is short-lived. Jansen’s pregnant wife is assassinated on election night, and the alleged perpetrator is none other than Doggie’s father.
Jansen comes to the White House as a changed man and determined to end gun violence. Rights are taken away as quickly as weapons and international travel becomes impossible. Checkpoints and roadblocks destroy infrastructure of the country and the media is censored. Militias declare civil war on the government and America is in chaos. Jansen’s former friends each find themselves fighting a very different battle, for themselves, their rights, and their country. Doggie’s fights for the life of her father, who just may be innocent.
This is a thought-provoking and timely political thriller that leaves us thinking. Here is psychological suspense combined with humor and sensitive rapport between the characters. The story was inspired by actual events during a dark period of Danish history and reads like a parable of honest individuals who become caught up in corruption.
Adler-Olsen is most well known for his Nordic Noir, Department Q series and he is thought of as a writer who gives depth to all of his characters and we really see that here. We meet the main characters several years before the actual story begins and it is through this that we begin to understand their personalities and how closely they are tied to one another. When the actual tale begins to unfold, this background becomes the way to understand the end. You will understand that when you read the book.
When Jansen is overwhelmed with grief due to the shooting of his wife and not-yet born child, he initiates a series of executive decisions that will alter the foundation of America’s political, economic and constitutional foundations. The result is chaos panic and outrage that worsens each day he is in office. Indeed the story reflects today’s current events very closely but it was actually written in 2006 about a Democrat and not a Republican president. It is an eerily familiar story. We must remember that there is what we know as the right to executive decision and it has long been part of the US Presidential powers but never used to the extent that it has been under Presidents Obama and Trump. This is the real premise to the book. We must all remember that
not American yet he has written an incredible thriller about this country. Bruce Jansen, the American president here implements policies that include gun confiscation and deportation of illegal immigrants that throws the country into a state of chaos. But Jansen is only one of the characters, as the story is told from the perspective of regular people who somehow become involved in his campaign and presidency. I do not want to say any more about the plot except to tell you to be prepared for a very powerful and thrilling read.