Julian Mellow is a billionaire whose adult son was recently murdered in an African country and he is intent on exacting revenge in some way. To achieve it, Julian is backing a candidate for the US Presidential election but what he’s planning exactly is unclear because he seems to be blackmailing and working with people on both sides of the aisle. A former employee and confidant named Zach, has been stalking Julian since he lost his job, and stumbles on a story bigger than he first imagined. Now, Zach has to decide how much more of his life he is willing to sacrifice to get back at his former boss.
This fast paced narrative is told in alternating perspectives and moves across time and space in dizzying iterations. While the plot of Presidents’ Day features the government of two countries, both elections are manipulated for personal motives so the political corruption becomes merely the backdrop for what are much more universal themes – hate and greed and the desire for justice, even when it requires sacrificing all. Margolis successfully created characters who are complex, yet flawed and even awkward gaffs at the beginning of the novel were righted as the story progressed so it was a rare treat to read a book that ended stronger than it began.
In his writing, the author does explain some things more bluntly than he needs to, going out of his way to prepare the reader for a revelation, rather than allowing it to hit and thrill the way this genre should, but even this tendency I could overlook because things were happening so fast that I didn’t feel like it slowed things down too much.
The author also spent a good deal of time introducing and explaining things that didn’t have anything to do with the plot of the book – New York’s iconic architecture and Julian’s fascination with art, as examples. It would have been more meaningful if these details foreshadowed in some way, the story’s resolution. Or maybe I just didn’t get the references.
Overall, I enjoyed reading a book that felt familiar because of having watched political dramas on TV and I would recommend this for fans of those kinds of shows.
Disclaimer: I received a free copy from the publisher in order to complete this review but all views expressed here are my own.