★★★★★ When Push Comes to Shove: A Clown’s Demise by Donald J. Mackie is a zippy political thriller about the (thankfully) fictional conservative U.S. President McDonald and the revenge he takes upon liberal constituents in Oregon in response to flagging presidential poll numbers. The president’s plan is simple: By calling his numerous cronies to his cause, McDonald can bypass all of the legislative red tape that restricts logging operations in the old growth forests of Oregon. But as soon as word of McDonald’s malfeasance hits the Internet, a group of college students known as the STRONG Alliance organizes a sit-in protest to prevent logging there. Undaunted, McDonald orders the students’ arrests, which only leads to another group taking the STRONG Alliance’s place and continuing the protest, proving that there will be always be good people left in this world to carry on the endless task of keeping evil at bay. With the tension mounting and the president showing no sign of letting up, things are about to get explosive.
As soon as it becomes apparent that McDonald shares much in common with a current sitting president, it would be easy for readers to write this off as another spoof of our frankly unbelievable political climate. But When Push Comes to Shove is so much more than that. Mackie poses an interesting premise and allows the chaos to branch out from there in unpredictable patterns. The author’s expertise in West Coast geology also shines through, painting the Pacific Northwest in enticing colors that will convince even the most nature-averse readers that the old growth forests are an environmental wonder worthy of our protection.