Reviewed by: BigAl
Genre: Political Thriller
Approximate word count: 115-120,000 words
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A former journalist, Christopher Truscott now sometimes works as a political strategist and is a veteran of “two dozen local, state and federal campaigns over the last ten years.” He has written four books in his Perpetual Campaign series (this is the first) and recently co-authored a non-fiction book about Michele Bachmann.
“Clarissa Rogers is a young idealist who’s been given the opportunity of a lifetime.
Unfortunately, however, that means serving as communications director for a hopelessly egotistical, opportunistic and unqualified congressional candidate.
It isn’t too miserable at first. Alex Hogan has no chance of actually getting elected to represent Minnesota’s 7th District. Then he gets lucky—again and again and again.”
Although this is the first book in Truscott’s The Perpetual Campaign series, it is the second that I’ve read. I’d wondered about the meaning of the series name and now think I get it. The primary characters, Clarissa Rogers and Carter Jennings, are political operatives who are constantly (perpetually) working to elect or reelect a candidate, jumping from one campaign to another.
What makes this installment different from A Referendum on Conscience (second in the series, but the first I read) is that the candidate in this book, Alex Hogan, is much less deserving of their expertise. This makes for an interesting dynamic, as Clarissa and Carter’s loyalty is more to Winston, a mentor who has hired them for this campaign, than to the candidate. The contrast between the two characters (Carter is an archetypal gun-for-hire while Clarissa is more of an idealist who would rather believe in her candidate) fueled contemplation on the good and bad in our political process. Hogan’s opponent in the general election, the ultraconservative incumbent, Tara Gunderson Hansen, who it seems to me was not based on, but certainly inspired by, a specific Congresswoman from Minnesota, set up a classic lesser-of-two-evils race.
Truscott’s characters, the idealistic Clarissa and even Carter Jennings, warts and all, are likeable and the kind of people that a reader can pull for, which bodes well for the series. Political thriller lovers will find this book, and I suspect the entire series, excellent reads. I sure have so far.
Some adult language.
A small number of typos and copy editing misses.
Rating: **** Four stars