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Summary

Summary

The New York Times and #1 internationally bestselling author of the Department Q series is back, with a terrifyingly relevant stand-alone novel about an America in chaos.

"The president has gone way too far. . . . These are practically dictatorial methods we're talking about."

Sixteen years before Democratic Senator Bruce Jansen was elected president of the United States, a PR stunt brought together five very different people: 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. In spite of their differences, the five remain bonded by their shared experience and devotion to their candidate.

For Doggie, who worked the campaign trail with Wesley, Jansen's election is a personal victory: a job in the White House, proof to her Republican father that she was right to support Jansen, and the rise of an intelligent, clear-headed leader with her same ideals. But the triumph is short-lived: Jansen's pregnant wife is assassinated on election night, and the alleged mastermind behind the shooting is none other than Doggie's own father.

When Jansen ascends to the White House, he is a changed man, determined to end gun violence by any means necessary. Rights are taken away as quickly as weapons. International travel becomes impossible. Checkpoints and roadblocks destroy infrastructure. The media is censored. Militias declare civil war on the government. The country is in chaos, and Jansen's former friends each find themselves fighting a very different battle, for themselves, their rights, their country . . . and, in Doggie's case, the life of her father, who just may be innocent.


Author Notes

Jussi Adler-Olsen is Denmark's #1 crime writer and a New York Times bestselling author. His books routinely top the bestseller lists in Europe and have sold more than fifteen million copies around the world. His many prestigious Nordic crime-writing awards include the Glass Key Award, also won by Henning Mankell, Jo Nesbø, Stieg Larsson, and Peter Høeg.


Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Six people Dorothy Doggie Rogers, Wesley Barefoot, Rosalie Lee, Sheriff T. Perkins, journalist John Bugatti, and Virginia U.S. Senator Bruce Jansen are bound forever when they witness the assassination of Jansen's wife during a goodwill trip to China. Fifteen years later, Doggie and Wesley are dedicated workers on Jansen's victorious presidential campaign. But, on election night, instead of cheering Jansen's acceptance speech, they witness the assassinations of his second wife and unborn child. Doggie's father, a vocal critic of Jansen, is arrested for masterminding the assassination. Now the president, Jansen responds with a law-and-order agenda: executive orders that declare a state of emergency, invoke FEMA's broad domestic powers, and rescind constitutional rights on everything from free speech to bearing arms. When America's militias turn against the government, Jansen finds justification to execute political opponents and wield autocratic control. Adler-Olsen weaves a thought-provoking dystopia through the experiences of Jansen's inner circle: Doggie and T. Perkins, risking death to implicate a powerful enemy in the assassination; Wesley, forced to remain Jansen's press secretary or face death; Bugatti, hunted while documenting the government's abuses; and, Rosalie, who clings to the hope that Jansen's measures will save her sons from a life of crime. A hauntingly timely political thriller, flawed only in that its conclusion shifts despotic chaos into an idealized democratic rebirth too neatly.--Christine Tran Copyright 2018 Booklist


Publisher's Weekly Review

First published in Denmark in 2006, Adler-Olsen's far-fetched political thriller plays out in a near-future Washington, D.C., where newly elected President Bruce Jansen tries to centralize power by suspending parts of the Constitution. Convinced the country is headed for ruin after his wife's assassination, Jansen takes several measures to severely limit civil rights. Meanwhile, wealthy hotel magnate Bud Curtis, a political rival of the president, is arrested for the killing of Jansen's wife. The arrest complicates the career of Curtis's daughter, Doggie, who has worked for Jansen for many years. As her father's execution date nears-the death penalty runs rampant in this milieu-Doggie abandons her White House job and sets out to prove her father's innocence. The ponderous plot moves in ways that strain belief. Fans of the author's long-running Department Q crime series (The Scarred Woman, etc.) won't find much to like. Agent: Rudi Urban Rasmussen, Politiken Literary Agency (Denmark). (Aug.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


Library Journal Review

Written in 2006, Adler-Olsen's ("Department of Q" series) prescient stand-alone thriller depicts the fall of democracy when the U.S. government is dominated by personal agendas and abuse of power. A public relations stunt for Democratic senator Bruce Jansen brings an unlikely group together; 16 years later, after Jansen is elected president, they reconnect to protect America from dictatorship. In the wake of his pregnant wife's assassination on election night, Jansen is determined to end gun violence. Using presidential executive orders and the Federal Emergency Management Agency's authority, Jansen and his loyal cabinet create a police state in which the Constitution is suspended and the Bill of Rights is invalidated. Congress is shut down. Undocumented immigrants are deported, borders are closed, and the press is censored. Opponents disappear. White House employee Dorothy "Doggie" Rogers and press secretary Wesley Barefoot must work with their old friends from the PR campaign-Sheriff T. Perkins, -charismatic Rosalie Lee, and NBC journalist John Bugatti-to convince Americans that the new order is the product of a treacherous coup. VERDICT As with Sinclair Lewis's It Can't Happen Here, this nightmarish portrait reveals how easily democracy can slide into autocracy, scaring the apathy out of readers. [See Prepub Alert, 2/11/18.]-K.L. Romo, Duncanville, TX © Copyright 2018. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Excerpts

Excerpts

Chapter 1 Autumn 1992      Even though she was still only fourteen years old, Doggie knew: Just as every adventure has a beginning, it also has an ending. In Doggie's case the ending couldn't have been worse. It all began with Governor Jansen's office sending Virginia's biggest local television station a suggestion for a new quiz show, plus the capital to get it off the ground. It was to be a geographical quiz where everyone who could correctly name China's most populous city was invited to participate. The TV station went for the idea. After the initial elimination round, only forty-eight participants were left, and among them-quite sensationally-was a fourteen-year-old girl. The excitement rose for four weeks: Both the sponsor, Leatherman Auto Tires, and Governor Jansen's campaign office wanted to get their money's worth. The first programs were broadcast in the afternoon, but the show quickly found its way into prime time. A good three-quarters of Virginians followed the event on their TV screens. This was a new viewer record. Throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia, people bet on the outcome. Each had his or her favorite. But most, by far, backed the girl with the dimples, who was also the youngest contestant: Dorothy Curtis, also known as Doggie. Three weeks and three episodes later, Virginia's TV audience finally got their three winners-and what winners they were! Governor Jansen beamed like a Hollywood star, the host had his wages doubled, and the newspapers went crazy. With the exception of a blonde with silicone breasts and full hips who lost out in the last round (but instead got her own talk show on which to display her attributes), the winners couldn't have been more popular. First prize went to Rosalie Lee, a big African-American woman from New York who happened to be in Virginia for the first time, visiting her sister Josefine. Rosalie was a showpiece of a woman, with pearly teeth, roaring laughter, and winks to the audience, and few could match her talent of using so much time to answer a question that the audience was about to go crazy. Only one point behind her came T. Perkins, a pale-faced, practically albino sheriff, who came from one of the smallest counties in the northwestern part of the state. A man who, in his youth, had been one of the nation's best dart players. And finally, in an impressive third place came Doggie Curtis, the girl with the dimples. What a triumph! The winners couldn't have been more different, and everyone involved with the show was pleased. How could any part of the population feel overlooked with those three? It simply wasn't possible. The lucky winners couldn't believe it when they heard their prize being announced live on the show. Along with the graduated cash jackpots came nothing less than a trip to the other side of the world for the three of them. For Doggie especially, it was all unreal and incredible. They were to travel to China with Governor Bruce Jansen, his staff, and an official Chinese delegation. They'd be entering a closed world, and everything would be paid for. It sounded like a fairy tale. Doggie's father was proud about his daughter being so bright, but not about her prize. He was a right-wing Republican and hated Bruce Jansen, who was "old money" and a Democrat besides. "Jansen? That swine?" he yelled at her. "You don't plan to participate in a PR stunt like that, advancing the ambitions of that fucking untrustworthy Democrat, do you?!" He forbid her going, and Doggie's mother was forced to use all her powers of persuasion to make him change his mind. As fate would have it, this was the last time Doggie heard them quarrel. Her parents were divorced just five months later, a divorce that descended into a fight over money and custody of their child. Doggie ended up being installed in her mother's house with her mother's maiden name. In a way her father was right. It was all a PR stunt, but so what? Governor Jansen was a clever man. He'd taken three ordinary people and made them everybody's darlings, and via them, invited Virginia's entire population of seven million souls along to a far-off, enigmatic land. It was practically the only thing folks talked and read about. School newspapers, ladies' magazines, and even Doggie's father's boring hotel business newsletter wrote about it. And everyone wanted to talk with Doggie. She'd been approached by twenty-one of Virginia's thirty-four newspapers, either for interviews or to publish the last month's entries in her diary. It was quite an achievement: Bruce Jansen had embraced the entire population all at once, and vice versa. He may have been calculating, but a swine he was not. He was quite fantastic, actually. Doggie's heart was pounding as she bid her mother farewell and ascended the portable stairway to the huge airplane, glittering in the sunshine. She'd flown at least twenty times within the States, plus to Mexico and Puerto Rico, but never in a plane that size. It was a little frightening. When she reached her seat, Sheriff T. Perkins was already in the next seat by the window, looking sleepy and absentmindedly cleaning his fingernails with the point of a gilded dart. Governor Jansen's wife, Caroll Jansen, came over and patted her on the cheek. "You're a clever girl, Doggie," she said. "It was wonderful, you winning third place. Just magnificent. I think we're going to have a fine time together, we two." She nodded graciously to a few of the passengers and sat down a couple of rows forward, between her husband and his indispensable right hand, Thomas Sunderland. Then Rosalie Lee came blustering down the aisle. She gave everyone a hearty greeting and planted herself next to Doggie, her bulk flowing over onto Doggie's seat. She immediately emptied a giant paper bag of Coca-Cola cans, crackers, chips, and a great variety of candy bars and began offering goodies to all her neighbors. It had been like that in the TV studio, too. No one in Rosalie Lee's company was going to go hungry if she had anything to say about it. Chewing away on her portable feast, she entertained Doggie with talk of New York, her little apartment in the Bronx, and her three wonderful sons, finishing with peals of laughter as she described how she'd kicked her loser of a husband out of her home, ass first. Rosalie's unrestrained laughter woke Sheriff T. Perkins up a bit, and he looked around in bewilderment. He was pretty easygoing-slept now and then and didn't say much. He'd clearly been the most knowledgeable of the three quiz winners, but even though Rosalie Lee had sometimes seemed slow-witted, appearances were deceptive. Her brain was capable of changing gears suddenly and leaving everyone in the dust, and that was how she wound up winning the contest. A couple of hours later, a young man who'd been sleeping since takeoff leaned his head towards the row of prizewinners in front of him. "Wesley Barefoot." He presented himself with luminous teeth. "Well, looks like we're going to be together the next couple of weeks. Maybe you know my mother-she's Governor Jansen's secretary." The three shook their heads politely. "Congratulations, by the way," he continued. "I watched all the episodes, just like everybody else. You were all brilliant!" They smiled obligingly-just the cue the man needed to launch into his life story. He was studying law and loved politics and British rock bands. Et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. Doggie thought he was nice and smelled good. Bruce Jansen took one female prizewinner under each arm as they walked towards the welcoming deputation of photographers, cameramen, and journalists in Beijing's airport. The weather was cold and gray, and everyone was talking at once. After the obligatory questions from the Chinese press, the governor turned to face the international press that was standing behind a row of blue-clad Chinese soldiers. Doggie quickly noticed one of the journalists, a very little man with intense, dark eyes and a receding hairline. A man who was obviously receiving more attention than the others and got all his questions answered, one after the other. When the interview was over, the governor and his wife disappeared in a black limousine, along with two Chinese officials. The rest of his staff followed in another official car, and the crowd of journalists began breaking up. Apparently the diminutive, dark-eyed journalist was the only one who seemed interested in the rest of Jansen's party. He waved to his photographer and made straight for the little group. "Hey, my name's John Bugatti," he said with a hoarse voice, and cleared his throat. "I work for NBC. I'm supposed to follow along with you and Jansen on the whole tour, so I thought I'd say hello." Close up, Doggie could see he had more freckles than she'd ever seen. An irresistible little guy. She was really enjoying this trip-her father's objections had been completely unfounded. Doggie Curtis's last day in Beijing began like a fairy tale, just like all the others. As usual, the little group of Americans had begun by eating breakfast in the hotel's dining room, surrounded by smiling waiters. Aside from Rosalie Lee and Caroll Jansen, whose finer motor functions seemed to be on the level of a stranded jellyfish, everyone was eating with chopsticks. Doggie gazed through the large windows at the city's skyline with its scalelike tiled roofs on clusters of hutongs. They had wandered through the Summer Palace's enchanting, long corridors, breathed the air at Beihai Lake, and silently contemplated the calm that enveloped the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests. The days had flown by, and now they were going to take a bus ride to the silk market, followed by a walk along the market's narrow streets to the nearby American consulate. That evening they were going to the circus, and the next day they would begin a trip around the Chinese countryside-Xi'an, the Yellow River, Hangzhou, Shanghai, and back again. It was a question of getting as much out of these remaining days as possible. The market seemed remarkably quiet. Even the few curious people who were following along after the group were silent. None called out to them; no one was pushy. "They sure do business in an orderly fashion here," whispered John Bugatti at Doggie's side. "You should see how they assault you in Hong Kong or Taipei. It'll probably be like that here in a couple of years, just wait and see." She nodded and let her eyes wander over counters overflowing with bolts of material and multicolored silk dresses and scarves. One she saw would look perfect on her mother. "What do you think that one costs? What's that say?" she asked Bugatti, pointing at a sign written in Chinese. Suddenly, Caroll Jansen came out of nowhere and put her arm around Doggie's shoulder. "That one would look perfect on you!" She smiled, took out her wallet, gave the seller some money, and chose to ignore the fact that he didn't smile back as he folded up the scarf and handed it over the counter's rough planks. "Come over here, Doggie!" called out Governor Jansen, who was standing before a large population of small Chinese figurines of an indeterminable material. "Look! This one brings good luck. May I have permission to give you one?" The shopping took only a few more minutes and they were on their way towards the consulate, Doggie with a new scarf over her shoulder and a little, hollow Buddha figurine under her arm. She was proud and happy. Governor Jansen had looked her deep in the eyes and assured her that the little icon symbolized an eternal bond of friendship between them. "You just come to me if you ever need help," he said. It was amazing. She hunched her shoulders and took a deep breath of the sharp morning air. Everything was perfect: her traveling companions, the exotic trees, and all the people going about their business. She smiled at the workers sitting on the edge of the sidewalk with chopsticks and small bowls, eating warm food from the stalls lined up behind them. Wesley Barefoot was walking in front of her with a smile so broad, she could see it from behind. He was pointing in all directions with one eye glued to a cheap, newly acquired camera. T. Perkins was walking along beside him, eyes alert, a plastic bag in each hand filled with all kinds of toys for nieces and nephews. At the head of the procession strode Governor Bruce Jansen in the best of moods with his wife under his arm. As they approached the consulate, he waved to one of the officials who was on his way across the street to greet them. Doggie looked up at the building. As she expected, it was smaller than the embassy on Xiushui Bei'jie where they'd eaten a delicious welcoming dinner two days before, but it still made a vivid, pompous impression in the sunshine, with the Stars and Stripes flapping in the breeze and an erect Chinese sentry standing on a low platform before the entry gate. Doggie glanced over her shoulder, back down the crowded, narrow street of tradesmen and their stalls. There was a world of difference between the Western-style, official opulence of the consulate and the flimsy, thrown-together stalls of the silk market. It revealed a huge gulf in wealth and customs. A little street seller was casting one of his many colorful dragon kites up into the breeze and the group paused to watch it wriggle towards the sky. Then it happened. Caroll Jansen suddenly screamed and struck out with both arms, her purse clutched in one hand. Doggie whirled around as her cry ended abruptly and she sank to the ground, blood squirting from her neck, while Governor Jansen's advisor, Thomas Sunderland, lunged after the young Chinese attacker. Sheriff T. Perkins flung away his plastic bags, so the sidewalk in front of the consulate came to life with bouncing rubber balls and small, plastic animals of every description, and in one leap he succeeded in cutting off the man's escape route back into the teaming silk market. Doggie would always remember the assailant's bloody knife, still gleaming as he tried to ward off the charging sheriff. Next she saw Governor Jansen falling to his knees, the figure in his arms already lifeless. Her lips moved silently as people rushed from all directions to help. She saw everything: Rosalie Lee shredding her best blouse into strips to try and stem Caroll Jansen's bleeding, the soldiers racing over to T. Perkins, who, with blood running down his arm, had pinned the kicking, howling killer to the ground. And she saw Wesley Barefoot, standing still as a statue in the middle of everything, his face white as a corpse. Excerpted from The Washington Decree: A Novel by Jussi Adler-Olsen All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.


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