Freelance political consultant Dev Conrad (Stranglehold, 2010, etc.) signs on to help another congressional campaign plagued by murder and other deviltry.
When liberal incumbent Jeff Ward’s father Tom persuades Dev to spend some time with his son’s flailing campaign, Jeff’s speechwriter Jim Waters hasn’t yet been shot to death. And Tom can’t even identify the other problems. But it’s clear that trouble is afoot. Someone close to Ward is evidently leaking sensitive information to Rusty Burkhart, his millionaire right-wing challenger. David Nolan, the candidate’s lifelong friend and chief of staff, disappears almost the moment Dev first pokes his nose into the campaign tent. And Dev soon learns that Ward is being blackmailed over a steamy videotape starring him and a prostitute. As Burkhart rises in the polls, Sylvia Fordham, high priestess of conservative consultants, crows over Ward’s vulnerabilities. Dev quickly realizes that only Jennifer Conners, the Goth teen left to mourn Waters, shows any sign of emotional attachment to any of the leads; everything else, from the two women Ward chooses to flank him at the press conference Dev urges him to call over Waters’ death, to the sound bites the candidates hurl at each other during a debate, is delectably synthetic. In such an amoral world, nothing, it seems, can save the Ward campaign—unless of course Dev discovers that his opponent has fallen victim to the same blackmailer too. Perfect.
Another caustic indictment of electoral politics at its most American. No wonder it’s hard to muster much moral outrage when Dev, efficient as ever, identifies the blackmailer and the killer, who act just like everyone else.