THE WASHINGTON DECREE by Jussi Adler-Olsen

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The author is Danish, writes in Danish, but has evolved a wide audience in the rest of the world via translations and the well written novels he turns out. His knowledge of the political system in the United States and its constitutional checks and balances is certainly evident in the background and presentation of the “Washington Decree”. Although he is mainly known internationally for his books featuring “Department Q” this novel is a well done stand alone and includes one of the most mesmerizing conspiracy plots I have seen in a long time.

The leading characters met 16 years prior to the opening of The Washington Decree, during a trip to China, and the five individuals have maintained contact since then. Dorothy (Doggie) Rodgers and Wesley Barefoot are both working at the White house for Bruce Jansen, just elected President with both Doggie and Wesley active in the election campaign. Both people are romantically interested in the other but work and events have so far prevented a more heated exchange.

Doggie’s father is the wealthy owner of a chain of hotels and is a staunch Republican. While Jansen is a Democrat, Doggie’s father feels incumbent upon himself to offer one of his hotels as a place to hold the inaugural ball and ceremonies. While celebrating victory, tragedy strikes when the President’s wife is gunned down by one the workers at the hotel.

Jansen immediately decides to take the position of getting rid of the violence, unilaterally he comes up with new rules that cause chaos in the U.S. making international travel almost impossible. Constant roadblocks and stops by police and soldiers cause the same stalemate as in travel abroad. And for Doggie, the ultimate horror occurs when her father is accused of masterminding the murder of the President’s wife. To make matters worse President Jansen decides that the normal lapses between sentencing and carrying out of the death penalty will no longer include the normal appeals that can last as long as ten years. Therefore it looks like her father will be executed in a matter of a few weeks.

Beside Doggie’s natural urge to exonerate her father and get him out of prison, there is an evolving censorship of all media, the probable insurrection by militia against Jansen’s dictatorial decrees and the complete insecurity of the citizenry unable to count on previously guaranteed rights and liberties. Adler-Olsen’s description of the chaos running rampant in the United states is quite vivid and possibly even understated if such conditions were to actually occur. What is done to alleviate the problem will certainly provide the reader with some sleepless time and a keen interest in getting more novels from the author.

An A+ novel at the very least.

8/18 Paul Lane

THE WASHINGTON DECREE by Jussi Adler-Olsen. Dutton (August 7, 2018).  ISBN 978-1524742522. 592p.

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