© 1994 Christopher Buckley
Naylor, like most modern protagonists, is not the model hero; there are few admirable things about him, other than his devotion to his son’s education. That education is financed by him lying through his teeth on national television on a daily basis, sure, but it’s impressive lying. Although he does his part to prepare, staying abreast of medical reports and the like, most of his finessing the truth is impromptu. His fleet-footedness is impressive, even if he is a scoundrel with the discretion of a randy chimp. Eventually he has his private moment of reckoning, a bit of soul-searching that ends the novel.
The in-between is fun, a look into the lifestyle of the rich and infamous. This is a dark comedy, which would be more comedic than dark were it not for the main character’s job occupation. He meets with a few friends every week for lunch, companions who represent the alcohol and firearms lobbies. Their tongue-in-cheek name for themselves is the MOD squad – for they are the merchants of death. Fun with names is a common trope here; Nick refers to nicotine, of course, and a stop-smoking group uses the acronym NOMAS, which is ‘no more’ for Spanish speakers. If characters take themselves seriously, it is only in a pompous way that makes them easier targets for the reader to laugh at. Even an attempt at murder involves worldplay. The laughter stops after Nick is threatened with death on live TV, and then assaulted after he cheerfully loses his security detail. The book quickly becomes a thriller at that point.
Altogether it's a fun read.