Genre: Political Thriller
“A terrorist attack. A vote against a popular war. A re-election campaign.
Rebecca McElroy is looking forward to retiring as she nears the end of her second term in the U.S. Senate.
Clarissa Rogers, the senator's young speechwriter, is glad to be out of the campaign business and has no intention of ever going back.
Then terrorists launch a devastating attack on Washington that drives the country into a bloody war and changes everything for the pacifist senator from Minnesota.
Clarissa's sent home and is tasked with managing a campaign the experts predict is doomed to fail. They're running against fear and anger—and public opinion. All they have to go on is the senator's conscience.”
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 three books in his Perpetual Campaign series (this is the second) and recently co-authored a non-fiction book on Michele Bachmann. He lives in a suburb of St. Paul, MN.
Sometimes I’m guilty of refusing to remember that fiction is, by definition, not true. No matter how much an author might weave people, places, and things they’re familiar with into a story, it is still a story they’ve made up. I was guilty of that with A Referendum on Conscience, picturing the President in the story as a George W. Bush clone and the war in question as a slightly modified war in Iraq in search of non-existent “weapons of mass destruction.” I’m not sure that viewing the story in this light wasn’t a good thing for me, but I found out after reading that the true happenings which served as inspiration were something else.
Regardless of how you choose to relate the story to real life, if you do that at all, it’s a great story. That there are multiple ways to relate the story to our world only makes it better. I assume it is due to the author’s work as a political strategist, but the “behind the scenes” look at a political campaign felt right to me. Much of the story takes place in Minnesota, and his depiction of the different cities and towns, as well as the specifics of the Twin Cities metro was spot on. If you’re a political thriller fan, you owe it to yourself to give A Referendum on Conscience a read.
Some adult language.
Although this is the second book of a series, I didn’t realize this prior to reading and never felt that I was missing pieces of the story even though I haven’t read the first. It definitely works as a stand-alone.
Added for Reprise Review: A Referendum on Conscience by Christopher Truscott was a nominee in the Thriller/Suspense category for B&P 2013 Readers' Choice Awards. Original review ran July 5, 2012.
Very few issues; however, among the few, one was using the wrong last name for a character (a third party candidate with a major role in the story) and the other, also a name problem, calling one of the character’s cars a Porsche Boxter, which should be Boxster.
Rating: ***** Five Stars
Reviewed by: BigAl
Approximate word count: 110-115,000 words