Book Review: “The People’s Police” by Norman Spinrad

The People’s Police by Norman Spinrad

Here’s a blast for the past! There I thought old Norman was dead by now, or at lest long past it. But here is a classic Spinrad tale of partying, revolution, and—well that’s basically it.

Set in a near-future New Orleans, faced with frequent storms, rising seas, and a massive currency deflation that is crushing the economy worse than anything since 1929, the story follows several ordinary people who are thrown into crazy and dangerous political waters.

Well, these folk are ordinary for New Orleans. Poor, second rate street busker, MaryLou, somehow attracts the attention of Erzuli and the other Voodoo loas, who thrust her into politics. J. F. Lafitte, a bar and bordello owner, finds himself playing big time politics. A young cop from the Alligator Swamp, Martin Luther Martin is drawn into leading a populist police revolt.

The title of the novel refers to the uprising of city police, who, through a series of events morph from oppressors to heroes of the people. Starting with a refusal to serve foreclosure notices on fellow police officers, the uprising evolves into an informal police strike against serving any foreclosures, and then into a popular “no victim, no crime” policy (AKA, let the good times roll), which shades into full out revolution.

Louisiana being Louisiana, the politics are sleazy and nasty, there is plenty of sex and drugs and Dixieland music, and, believe it or not, voodoo. This gumbo pot is stirred by all kinds of political interests and by the loas themselves, who apparently want to party.

The whole thing is completely batty, though almost believable for New Orleans.

This is vintage Spinrad, wild and wacky. He has lost none of his acid wit, nor his enthusiasm for boogying in the streets.


  1. Norman Spinrad, The People’s Police, New York, TOR, 2017.

 

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