In this third installment of his Travelers series, King’s (The Computer Heist, 2016, etc.) con-artist couple target a would-be politician.
The Traveling Man and his wife are in a town called Randal Junction. This time, he’s taken the name “George Harrison,” while she goes by “Roslyn.” They’re posing as married real estate agents to penetrate the ambitious life of banker Donald Honeycutt, who’s running for Congress. The con begins in earnest when Roslyn draws Honeycutt into a sexual affair, and George clandestinely films one of their trysts from a van. They later mail the banker a package containing a few steamy stills and a DVD of the event, which he nearly opens in front of his even-more-ambitious wife, Billie Honeycutt. They also send him a note demanding that he drop $10,000 into a mailbox each month, or they’ll tell Billie and the media everything. The con proceeds apace until Billie notices a missing $10,000 that no campaign business accounts for. Although she’s aware of her husband’s one weakness—women—she’d made him promise not to philander during the campaign. She sets a private eye named Stan Jessup on the banker’s trail to learn more. Roslyn, however, has a secret that radically alters the nature of the blackmail scheme—one that could make Randall Junction the Travelers’ last stop. For his third small-town thriller, King nearly undoes his ruthless couple by pitting them against an equally horrible duo. Billie, for example, is only with Donald because she “plans to go to Washington and take her wheeling and dealing to the next level without having to be in office herself.” As usual, King’s dialogue and secondary characters make for rich, pulpy reading; for example, when Sheriff Bo Teardale catches up with George, he reassures him by saying, “You’ve been watching too much TV. If I want you disappeared, you’ll disappear.” And even though King gives Donald the self-deprecating line, “It was the plot to a bad movie,” he masterfully crafts the deadly tangle of interpersonal alliances and their fallout. Although this volume could finish the Travelers’ tales, a sequel would be irresistible.
A tightly executed thriller and the high point of a great series.