Accident analyst Owen Allison (Stonewall Jackson’s Elbow, 2006, etc.) tangles with an old foe while trying to ensure election integrity.
Sheriff Thad Reader recognizes West Virginia’s checkered history of election fraud. But as the presidential primary draws near, he swears that no votes will be bought or sold in his county, even deputizing his friend Owen Allison to keep watch over the absentee ballots, which are especially vulnerable to fraud. Allison isn’t exactly a neutral party, since the race pits Missouri Gov. Sam Halstead against California Sen. Jason Davison, son of the man who caused Tranalytics, Owen’s consulting business, to go belly up 10 years ago. The closer the election gets, the more partisan Owen becomes, especially when he hears of the suicide of Dan Thornton, one of his old Tranalytics partners. Dan’s death seems fishy to Owen, the disappearance of Dan’s files seems fishier still, and soon he knows he’s running with a pack of sharks who will stop at nothing to get their man onto the national ballot. Even Owen’s mother, Ruth, gets into the swim, taking a group of local seniors to the polling place only to find that their votes have already been tallied. Billheimer blends fast-paced action with vivid local color as his hero fights to keep the Davisons from taking not only his livelihood, but his life.
Payback’s a bitch. Billheimer makes sure it’s entertaining, too.