The Great American Cheese War

9A1181DD-31CD-4E40-B8F5-74393E33CEBCTake a far right-wing appliance-making millionaire who starts his own private paramilitary company, the addled son he shoehorns into the governor’s office, and a network of scruffy militias with a hazy understanding of the Second Amendment. Mix in a virus that’s making the rounds, an amoral state police commander conspiring with the paramilitary magnate, and the rumor that the Wisconsin governor used prairie dogs to spread monkeypox through Michigan. Combine with the governor’s secretary who’s married to a militia member, and you’ve got the ingredients for a potentially sidesplitting book.

A daughter of the original Michigan militia, Miky Spike was raised in the movement, but by the time she graduates from college and marries her militia boyfriend, she’s starting to have doubts. That uneasiness is amplified when she and two other members, both lacking Miky’s fitness, education, and reasoning, are called upon to start the attack on Wisconsin.

The book is a comic powerhouse to this point, but loses steam when Miky and her mates kidnap a couple in a Hummer and start a shootout at that most flag-waving of interstate eateries, Cracker Barrel. All the characters are meltingly hot messes by this point, as is the narration, which ricochets between an increasing incoherent Governor, his irascible father, and the now FBI-targeted state police commander, with frequent flashes from the showdown at the Barrel Corral. Paul Flower tries, but fails, to juggle all these balls, and readers might reasonably opt to skim the latter half of the novel. What starts out as Michigan’s version of Carl Hiaasen ends up as dull as an appliance manual.

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