A mission to retrieve two incriminating recordings turns violent in Wyn’s debut historical thriller.
At first, U.S. President Jake Stryker’s meeting with Ohio Gov. Ed Thomas seems perfectly ordinary, as both are running for reelection in 1987. But Thomas’ receptionist, Suzi Saito, inadvertently hears the first few lines of their conversation over her intercom. In those opening remarks, the politicians refer to their connection to Chicago Mafia boss Angelo Donetti. Suzi realizes that exchange was automatically recorded on tape, and takes her concerns to her lover, Deke Marshall, a newly minted lawyer and licensed private investigator. But Thomas, suspicious about what Suzi overheard, taps her home phone. On this second tape, Deke relays his suspicions of insider trading involving the Ohio employee pension fund. This trading would involve ties to the governor’s son-in-law, and would be damaging to the politician’s career. Word of the tapes’ existence eventually gets to Thomas’ opponent, Ohio state senator Sam Chalmers, which results in multiple parties vying for the recordings. Soon, tragedy ensues, and Deke becomes determined to find the people responsible. Wyn’s gleefully frenetic novel offers unexpected plot turns and devious characters. One standout is Thomas’ chief of staff, Cate Jameson, who spearheads the insider trading by using intelligence, manipulation, and seduction. The endless double-dealings can feel soap-operatic, and there’s also explicit sex and brutality against men and women. Still, Wyn’s prose remains sharp and concise amid the chaos; at one point, for instance, the author elucidates stock-market jargon for novices without decelerating the narrative. Deke, however, is an improbable collection of character traits; the lawyer/PI is also an independently wealthy, genius playboy, a skilled marksman, and has a black belt in karate. Still, readers will likely look forward to a teased sequel.
A sometimes-savage but entertaining tale of the dangerous side of politics.