A Democratic candidate is nearing Presidential glory, aided not insubstantially by a team of violent, underhand and well-equipped voting fraudsters. The FBI are onto him, but can’t quite prove the manipulation. Will they out his toxic, violent electoral cheating before he’s running the whole country?
Senator Adams is running for President, and the Democratic candidate is prepared to cheat spectacularly to get there. Following a fictional election campaign, in which a secret group are manipulating the outcome in a variety of ways, PSEUDO PRESIDENT feels like an apt text for the modern day American political climate, an odd mix of an action-packed and sometimes violent thriller with some real full-on political research. The secret group grabbing control of the country exploit loopholes in the American electoral system, everything from voting methods and machine manipulation to the targeting of key states created by the electoral college.
The pace of the book’s development, especially given the subject matter, is impressive. There are frequent action-packed interludes, and the in-house meetings of those pushing forward the voter manipulation are frequently tinged with a real dark overtone cleverly laid on by the group’s in-house hit man, the psychotic Gavin. Those scenes, in particular, hop with intensity. At the heart of the story, though, is the love story between former marine, John, and his FBI girlfriend, Joie, a character who melts her hardened man’s outlook. John becomes a kind of informal protector, and quickly finds himself embroiled in the whole mess, dragged away from his fast-developing civilian career. The FBI, meanwhile, have an entire section of their office dedicated to the various power-grabbing misdemeanors of Senator Adams, who has insulated himself from the effects of his actions just enough to avoid ever being pinned down. They’re determined to get him on something, but they’ll need a bit of luck to finally connect the dots.
There are several weaknesses in the text that jump out. At one stage, shortly after someone is murdered with their alarms mysteriously unaffected, the rest of their team accept police protection in their homes, in place only until their alarms are set. The early conversations in the book can feel a bit too ‘scene setting’, in that they’re designed to inform the reader, but entirely unrealistic as conversations between people who know each other intimately. The political bias can also be quite full on. The book frequently goes on narrative asides that bash everyday Democratic platforms, far beyond what is necessary to the plot development, at times to the point of being irritating, though that might, of course, depend on the reader’s perspective.
As the first in a planned series, PSEUDO PRESIDENT establishes some interesting characters with plenty of depth to them, ripe for development. Aside from the fallout to it all, though, the ending is clear from the early chapters, so it’s merely a case of how the book’s going to get there. That makes it an interesting read that’s never really elevated beyond that level.
A manic thriller for the political nerd, PSEUDO PRESIDENT is a solid, if somewhat predictable journey through an American election amid a barrage of voter fraud, a developing love story and plenty of targeted violence.
~James Hendicott for IndieReader