In El Paso, Texas, the raging narco-wars between drug trafficking gangs in Mexico has bled over into American streets — claiming the life of the American president’s son. Having run on a platform of balancing the budget and reversing foreign-policy foul-ups that have lost countless American lives and money overseas, President Meyers nevertheless realizes something has to be done. After diplomatic and above-board covert ops fail to produce results, she turns to an ex-CIA spook named Pearce, who is now the head of a private military contractor that specializes in combat drones. His deadly campaign against one drug cartel will stir up a hornet’s nest of woes, because several factions within Mexico are being manipulated by an Iranian who is involved in a multinational conspiracy. More an intelligent technothriller than a Duke Nukem action-American novel, Drone offers speculation as to how drones might be employed — and legally justified — in the near future. Drones are depicted here not just providing recon and a platform to launch missiles, but sniping targets using facial-recognition software. Maden’s presidential figure is an interesting character, a populist who achieved office by running against her own party and vowing to end endless foreign wars; she struggles to keep her desire for justice and order in line with a firm commitment to Constitutional government. A downside of the novel, but a necessary part of its drama, was the domestic chaos that erupts from Meyer’s new policies toward Mexico. After the narco-gangs strike back and the border is functionally militarized, the media casts Meyers as an anti-Mexican tyrant, creating ‘a day without immigrant’ labor strikes, etc. Maden has a good mind for the diverse kind of political chaos imaginable in the United States today, but — alas for those of us who read this presently — that sort of chaos is going on now, so it’s not enjoyable in the least to read about. Everyone in this novel has a little schmutz on their face, including the principled executive who can only take the least-worst option of a list of bad choices.