Thursday, December 29, 2011

PKP FOR PRESIDENT: New Hampshire Politics from Beth Hilgartner

I am SO looking forward to 2012. Soho Crime is bringing out top-notch international mysteries from Quentin Bates, Graeme Kent, and Helene Tursten as the year opens; St. Martin's/Minotaur just sent an advance copy of a crime novel by Joseph Olshan, set in Vermont; and the Big Names of mysteries are all hard at work on sequels (part of my psyche is on hold, waiting for the new Armand Gamache detective novel from Canadian Louise Penny). And I have to say, 2011 is ending with a great flourish, too, from the books I've covered this week (Leslie Meier, Leighton Gage) to the one I plan to read this evening: The Innocent, the second book from Taylor Stevens (I really enjoyed her first, The Informationist).

And then, of course, there's that reality show of suspense, competition, and killer tactics, known as the Presidential Race. The Iowa caucuses are a few days off; 10 days from today, our neighboring state, New Hampshire, turns into a front-page political arena, and in 12 days its residents will vote for their candidates in the Republican primary. One of our friends living on the "Granite State" side of the river has already met Mr. Romney and Mr. Paul and Mr. Santorum and Mr. Huntsman ...

But he hasn't met PKP. For that matter, very few people in PKP FOR PRESIDENT get acquainted with the candidate that New Hampshire author Beth Hilgartner profiles. With a back cover that says the book is "the best political satire since Tina Fey met Sarah Palin!" (The Hollywood Hisser) and "the purrrfect literary companion for the political season" (says The Kitten Kaboodle), this lively techno-novel provides a candidate who can set her claws into every debate, take a bite out of the issues, and leap forward into intelligent mastery of even the retreat from two wars. If only the Democratic incumbent "Moab Brock" had listened to PKP a couple of years sooner!

Here's a sample from PKP's "virtual debate" with Senator Prodge:
SEN. PRODGE: If you're implying that I'm unduly influenced by corporate interests, you are doing me a disservice.

PKP: I never said anything about undue influence, Senator, but it does make me wonder what your constituents think they're paying for. ... Could it be that you don't really care if people near Yucca Mountain glow in the dark, as long as you keep nuclear waste out of your backyard?
And all this erupted because PKP got interrupted during some e-trades, by the arrival of a snooping Two-Feet intruder -- at a critical moment. By the time PKP made it back into cyberspace to continue aligning profits, the disaster had started: "Dog guts and hairballs! Fluffy, look at this: look at this! The bottom has completely fallen out of the ringgit and even the Tokyo banks look  a bit shaky."

Trading, shmading, you say? What's the big deal? Well, PKP's sister Fluffy is well aware that if PKP has to stay out of the market while it stabilizes, somebody's going to have to soak up the consequences of stifling PKP's aggressive intelligence. So saving her own furr is paramount, and it's Fluffy who aims PKP toward becoming a write-in candidate in the New Hampshire primary. No, nobody thinks PKP should actually take over the White House. But a vote for the virtual (and nearly invisible) candidate is a vote demanding electoral reform -- a chance for American voters to directly choose their leader.

Beth Hilgartner's earlier books include Cats in Cyberspace, which will soon be reissued by the Vermont publisher bringing us PKP, Voyage (an imprint of Brigantine Media). That's the publisher of my own latest novel (The Secret Room), and I referred Hilgartner to Voyage, so I'm far from unbiased on this one. But it's fun, and it's pertinent, and gosh, those virtual debates make a lot of sense to me.

Wonder who'll be writing in votes for PKP, 12 days from now, across the Connecticut River? Watch for the candidate's bumper stickers, the ones that say: "Let's Put the GUTS Back in Politics!" Pick up the book now from the publisher, or on Amazon or B&N, in either softcover or e-book form -- and in a couple of weeks, there should be ample stacks at the great independent bookstores of northern New England, too. Watch for PKP's pithy political comments on Facebook. Just don't expect this reclusive candidate to step out to the store to place a pawprint on the title page.

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