That curiosity-tickling question often serves as the basis for any great story, and author Dobie McArthur leverages it well in the second book of his new The Civil War Series. Lest you think that he writes about America’s past Civil War, to the contrary: McArthur sets his stories in the near-future, just a few years hence.
Questionable Intent is a cautionary tale of what America in the late-2020s could look like based on the policies and decisions being made by our embattled politicians and policymakers, voted in by a broad swathe of American citizens. It serves as a flashing warning sign, in the tradition of George Orwell and Ayn Rand, of the consequences of today’s decisions and priorities.
Where will they lead us?
What will life look like?
What are our options then, if any?
This second novel in the alternative-future series wraps around the world’s need for rare earths, setting much of the confrontation in Africa’s Saharan region. China and the U.S. are facing off toe-to-toe at all levels of business investment, political influence, and diplomatic outreach to an emerging global power, the African Union. McArthur clearly relies on his own past experiences and insider knowledge in the military, diplomatic corps, and business to bring authentic details to life in this highly intelligent fictional depiction of conflicts and obstacles threading through Washington DC and Morocco.
Most impressive, McArthur manages to weave a tale that appeals to the entire swathe of the political spectrum: the first female president is an Independent; the media tycoon controlling politicians behind the scenes through the concept of “wesay” is an artful blend of Jeff Bezos and Rupert Murdoch; and a character challenges motivations of funding policies with the irreverent comment, “climate change is caused by snowflakes having meltdowns.”
McArthur delivers a solid stand-alone novel about issues that matter to readers with a high degree of interest in media’s power, China’s ongoing stretch over all corners of the world’s natural resources, and the petty-to-serious political brinkmanship in DC. McArthur doesn’t attempt to craft a story that is easily digestible; rather, he intrigues and challenges not only your assumptions, but details real-world events happening now that are occurring under the radar.
This is not your classic political or spy thriller, though it has elements of both. The protagonists, carried forward from the first book, are not immediately recognizable or relatable, as in my opinion McArthur relies too much on dialog, not action, to move the story forward. However, twists and turns and surprising betrayals sprinkle the complex plot, keeping you glued to the story.
For those who are as worried as he that our country is on the brink of a real civil war, it is worth the time to learn more from his wealth of knowledge about issues, seemingly obscure, which will indeed shape our future.
For more great reads, check out the books on Ann Bridges’ homepage, too.