Starks (13 Days: The Pythagoras Conspiracy, 2006) offers a thriller set in oil country.
Energy company executive Lynn Dayton returns in this sequel. Dayton’s company, TriCoast, has a refinery to sell, and there are several interested buyers, including local Cherokee Nation investors and a Saudi prince, as well as Asian and British contingents. The death of a refinery employee at first seems like a fluke, but when the medical examiner rules the cause of death as poison, tensions begin to rise. Dayton’s ex-husband’s firm is working with the Cherokee Nation group, and when he’s poisoned too, many suspect that Dayton is behind it. She, in turn, grows alarmed that someone close to her may be a dangerous criminal. She soon finds herself pushed to the limit, as she also has a sick father and a wedding to plan while she tries to close the TriCoast deal without losing her life. The novel takes place in several locations, including Texas, Oklahoma and parts of Europe, and is mainly narrated in the third person, except for a few first-person passages by a mysterious figure whose identity is slowly revealed over the course of the novel. The dialogue is quick and punchy; however, there are a few unnatural moments, such as when Dayton tells her boss, “It’s true that the Tulsa refinery has become more profitable with all the oil being produced in Canada and the US”—information that TriCoast’s CEO would already know. There’s also some repetition; for example, how Dayton’s fiance lost his first wife is explained more than once. There a few references to the previous Lynn Dayton thriller, but this book reads fine as a stand-alone. Starks handles the pacing and suspense masterfully, and although Dayton’s final heroic act may strain credulity, it still makes for a thrilling conclusion.
An often gripping novel with a determined heroine, a high body count and a mysterious villain.