In Wolfe’s (Executive, 2011) political thriller, a secret U.S. agency tries to stop a covert group from hijacking the new voting process and possibly rigging the presidential election.
Robert Wilton can save his wife, who’s in desperate need of a heart transplant, if he does a “small favor” for a shadowy organization. He simply needs to ensure that the company where he works, Donaldson & Campbell Business Intelligence, contracts vendor ERamSys to design software for e-vote, the new all-digital voting system for America. But when two DCBI employees—both of whom opposed outsourcing the e-vote project—mysteriously die, a former CIA pal puts terrified Robert in touch with the agency. They know terrorists are behind the scheme, but the agency isn’t completely sure of their ultimate goal, whether it’s fixing the election or stealing voters’ information. Technology executive Alex Hoffman goes undercover at the ERamSys HQ in New Delhi, where attempting to retrieve the software code puts her in the cross hairs of dangerous, untrustworthy men. Despite references to James Bond—Alex trains with 007’s gun, a Walther PPK, and uses a bomb-sniffing gadget that resembles an alarm clock—the novel is more political thriller than spook story. Alex, for example, seems to have trouble getting access to the code due to her gender than for security reasons. Elsewhere, the forthcoming election serves as a major subplot, with a number of news programs, like News of the Hour, offering updates for readers. There is nevertheless an impressive amount of suspense throughout. The agency is wary of enigmatic Warren Helms, who first approached Robert, and readers learn about the Council for a New World Equity, an evil multinational conglomeration hoping to overthrow the American government. Other elements—including CANWE meetings somewhere in Greece as well as scenes involving presidential hopeful Sen. Bobby Johnson, an unpopular and rarely sober candidate whom CANWE apparently supports—occasionally overshadow the espionage story, which mostly features Alex and fresh agency recruit Louie Blake, who joins her in New Delhi. But each of these subplots is an essential ingredient in a multilayered novel rich in texture.
There’s no standout spy amid all the spying, but shady dealings and global struggles aid this solid genre outing.