A Book Spy Review: ‘The Washington Decree’ by Jussi Adler-Olsen

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The washington decreeFollowing 9/11, a series of executive orders were signed into existence in order to further protect the United States of America in the event of an imminent attack on the homefront. Under certain circumstances, that means the president can invoke martial law, changing society as we know it today. . . 

In Jussi Adler-Olsen’s The Washington Decree, that is precisely what happens when President Bruce Jansen goes way too far in his bid to end all gun violence, essentially elevating himself to dictator status after his wife is assassinated.

Dorothy “Doggie” Rogers grew up in a Republican home but doesn’t share her parents’ political views.  She began supporting Bruce Jansen when he was just a senator, much to the dismay of her especially conservative-leaning father. Sixteen years later, when Jansen won the White House, Doggie went with him, proud of her new job and the man she’s supported her entire adult life. However, her perfect world comes crashing down around her when the First Lady is assassinated and her father turns out to be the prime suspect in the shooting. 

The messy setup for Doggie is just the beginning. Soon, the focus is shifted back to Jansen, who declares martial law in order to strip all Americans of their firearms. That, though, is just the beginning, as the right to bear arms is hardly the only constitutional right infringed upon. Habeas corpus, due process, and free speech are the next dominoes to fall. Then go freedom of the press and the freedom to travel about, as the grieving president continues running a military state hellbent on controlling the American population. Doggie, meanwhile, like so many others, questions what’s happening around her. Realizing there’s a time and place for discussion and dialogue, but that Jansen’s actions are so very beyond that, Doggie joins the fight to stop what’s happening, and in the process, discovers that her her father, who has been sentenced to death for the murder of Jansen’s wife might just be innocent after all. . . 

Stepping away from his Department Q series to deliver this politically-charged standalone novel, Jussi Adler-Olsen’s timely new thriller offers a terrifying glimpse at what could happen under the right circumstances should the president ever lose his mind and begin acting out of control to serve his personal agenda instead of serving the American people. Overall, The Washington Decree has a great setup for a conspiracy thriller, but the execution, while not bad, isn’t great, either. In a lot of ways, this book is similar to Stephen Coonts’ provocative, politically incorrect novel, Liberty’s Last Stand.  The main difference is that Coonts’ book, while controversial, was very well-written and entertaining. 

Adler-Olsen’s, on the other hand, takes a long time to get going, and then, even after it does get chugging along, never really lives up to the hype. Also, there are some inaccuracies in the story itself, most likely due to translation issues, as the book was originally published in Denmark. In the end, there is a somewhat valuable message for readers, and the timely plot threads will no doubt resonate with some Americans, while, quite frankly, others (depending on their political leanings) will absolutely hate it. That’s to be expected whenever a thriller crafted around multiple hot-button issues come out, and The Washington Decree is no exception. 

Controversial, yes. . . but also entertaining. Jussi Adler-Olsen’s The Washington Decree is equally thought-provoking and alarming.

Book Details

Author: Jussi Adler-Olsen
Pages: 592 (Hardcover)
ISBN: 152474252X
Publisher: Dutton
Release Date: August 7, 2018
Book Spy Rating: 6.5/10

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Praised as “one of today’s finest book reviewers” by New York Times bestselling author Gayle Lynds, Ryan Steck (“The Godfather of the thriller genre” — Ben Coes) has “quickly established himself as the authority on mysteries and thrillers” (Author A.J. Tata). He currently lives in Southwest Michigan with his wife and their six children.

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