I know I've been neglecting the blog for quite some time, but the past 12 months have been rather a lesson in how to take a metaphorical beating, and despite the pain, I find I'm coming out all right. Still, it's been a while since I've been jump up and down excited to receive a book in the mail. That all changed when I ordered a copy of Frank McAuliffe's unpublished Augustus Mandrell novel, Shoot the President, You Must be Mad (The Outfit, 2010), a book that has unfairly languished unpublished for decades.
It is the final novel chronicling the humorous exploits of well heeled killer for hire Augustus Mandrell, and it's quite funny and entertaining, even if it doesn't rise to the heights of Of All The Bloody Cheek. This novel, unlike Cheek, is not divided into "Commissions" as the droll Mandrell calls them, but constitutes one long tale of Mandrell setting up and executing a rather involved assassination in America. As such, the book drags a little in places, but it is filled with McAuliffe's singular wit, and his observations about American culture are surprisingly timely for a book that's been moldering in a drawer for years. Mandrell, to accomplish his goal, assumes the identity of one Clifford Waxout, a member of a right-wing group known redundantly as America's Americans. It was no doubt based on the John Birch Society, but it doesn't take much imagination to see a connection between the old right and the new Tea Party's yammering on about socialism. The more things change, the more things stay the same.
The story gets off to a bit of a slow start, with Mandrell putting in a lot of time and effort to seduce and opera singer in order to get an invitation to an event where the President will be present. While amusing, it is a little tedious. The good news, however, is that once the mayhem starts it is outrageous and laugh out loud funny. McCauliffe once again succeeds in bringing some much needed humor to the grim world of the contract killer.
(Let me apologize for a lack of a cover image. I seem to be experiencing technical difficulties in that department.)
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