This novel is an interesting, compelling, and unusual political journey through an election season.
An unconventional and often funny look at the nuances of modern politics, The Cleaning Crew by Richard D. Hayes is an account of what happens when the disaffected band together for substantial social change.
Lifelong residents of Massachusetts Matt and Jeremy have decided to enjoy their retirement years not vacationing in Florida, but rather fighting the state’s political corruption. Having both amassed considerable fortunes during their working years, Matt and Jeremy are able to call upon a diverse group of fellow successful Massachusettsans to help begin a political group, the Cleaning Crew.
Founded on nine specific goals intended to leave the state in better standing after a four-year term, the Crew takes off quickly. Their work is no easy feat. The group faces its fair share of targeting and political spin from the existing powers that be. As time passes and the Crew’s sentiments and loyalties become clear, though, more voters join their cause, making for an unprecedented election season.
Hayes has spent his life working with the law, and that expertise is apparent in his writing. Early in the book when the Crew’s nine goals are explained, and later on through its detailed appendix, it’s clear that this is knowledgeable work. Each tenet of the Crew’s plan has been meticulously researched and could bring about real change to Massachusetts.
Though the characters are fictitious, Hayes’s points are not, helping to add to the credulity of the Cleaning Crew’s cause. This attention to detail is a continual benefit. When Matt talks policy, it’s believable, primarily because it’s rooted in actual government operations.
In addition to its thorough policy points, the prose in The Cleaning Crew is strong. The story is clear and progresses logically, characters are appropriately defined, and dialogue is both believable and natural. An omniscient narrator proves to be a smart choice, as other characters’ motives are carefully revealed as the story unfolds.
Sometimes substance gets in the way of style, though. At times, characters reiterate points too much, particularly concerning the nine goals; this makes for a dry read. The book’s outward presentation is also misleading: the cover features faceless businessmen in construction garb who flank the Massachusetts State House. This, paired with the blurb on the back cover, make the book seem like it’s going to be some kind of conservative manifesto, when in reality, it’s a thoughtful look at what can happen when underrepresented citizens come together.
The Cleaning Crew is an interesting, compelling, and unusual political journey through an election season.
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