A labyrinthine political thriller that details a plot to steal the American presidency.
When star reporter Jack Sharpe of the Republic News TV network asks U.S. Rep. Anthony Bravo of California about his well-known military heroism—feats that earned him a Silver Star—the presidential candidate hits a rhetorical home run, wowing the studio audience. But Jack notices an almost imperceptible discomfort on Bravo’s face—a flash of a grimace where a grin should be. He decides to dig deeper and tasks his team with finding Bravo’s old platoon mates; it turns out that three died under suspicious circumstances, and another, Jimmy Cull, is in prison for his wife’s murder—possibly unjustly. Further, Bravo returned to the United States earlier than his military records indicate. Meanwhile, Republic reporter George Vassos, a reporter on Jack’s team, investigates a mysterious political action committee raising monumental sums of money to attack Bravo’s political opponents; however, it also seems to support Pennsylvania Gov. Peter Nicholas, one of his rivals. After Cull is mysteriously found dead in his cell and Vassos is kidnapped, Sharpe turns to Oleg Kazarov, a wealthy Russian businessman who has the means to protect his investigative team and delve into research that’s frowned upon by law enforcement. Also looming in the background: a powerful company called Dronetech. Pepper (The People’s House, 2016) brings back Jack Sharpe in this installment of a continuing series, which is effectively designed to be read independently of its predecessor despite its occasional references to the previous work’s plot. The narrative this time around is energetically paced, and it’s densely packed with disclosures that effectively cultivate the reader’s sense of expectancy; there’s always the promise that the characters’ next discovery will bring with it a synoptic clarity. That said, the overall plot is implausible and convoluted—but, as with big-budget action movies, such realism is hardly the point.
A cinematic and dramatic story full of delightful twists.