In this thriller, a reporter investigates the possibility that recent congressional election upsets are the result of a conspiracy.
After an injury ended Jack Sharpe’s promising football career, he halfheartedly pursued a mediocre one in journalism. He’s already written his piece about Democratic U.S. Rep. Lee Kelly’s widely predicted victory in the Ohio congressional elections, but results show that the incumbent’s unheralded challenger has come from behind to win. As the night continues, more and more Republican triumphs pile up and the party decisively takes control of the House and, by extension, the nation’s government. The Republicans swiftly capitalize on their apparent mandate to pass sweeping new energy legislation. Then Jack gets a call from Ernie Rogers, the Democratic Party chairman of Ohio’s Monroe County, who says that he has reason to believe that someone may have tampered with voting tabulations. After Jack begins to look into this seemingly wildly implausible accusation, former congressman Kelly dies in a car accident. Jack subsequently finds that just prior to his demise, Kelly left a voice mail message revealing that he, too, had evidence of electoral fraud. The trail of clues leads Jack to a vast conspiracy that challenges the legitimacy of American democracy. In his debut effort, Pepper displays a deep knowledge of the American political process as well as a dark cynicism about its integrity: “Almost 250 years later, while their formal House structure remains intact, I can’t imagine the Founding Fathers would be impressed by the body’s actual operation,” says Jack. Although the plot invites some measure of incredulity, the author does manage to make the unthinkable seem at least possible. This is principally a political thriller, but it’s also a tale of Jack’s second act, and his attempt to turn a lackluster life into something more meaningful. Overall, it’s a smart, gritty, and astute story that will appeal to political junkies.
An engaging tale that looks at the grimy underbelly of American political power.