A seasoned Washington, D.C., newspaper reporter uncovers a potentially explosive corruption scandal in this debut political novel.
Beck Rikki, a Washington investigative journalist, is casually sipping a Corona Light when he receives a call from Daniel Fahy, a senior figure at the Justice Department. Fahy wants to tip off Beck about a high-ranking politician that he thinks is caught up in a bribery scheme. Beck is intrigued, if a little skeptical, but it has been a while since he’s written a good investigative story. Fahy possesses recordings of U.S. Sen. David Bayard talking about an apparent money-laundering scheme involving his properties in the Cayman Islands. As the money may be coming from a contractor that Bayard’s Senate committee oversees, officials are anxious to prosecute before the next election. Beck starts his probe, but he isn’t sure whether Fahy harbors political motives of his own or plans to set up the reporter somehow. The FBI pays a visit to Geneva Kemper, a fairly sultry lobbyist who works for Serodynne Corporation, a government contractor that has donated funds to Bayard and his PAC. She is also the wife of a senator and something of a recreational nudist. Concerned about the fate of one of Serodynne’s bids, Geneva introduces herself to Beck, hoping to find out information about the investigation. The two begin a torrid affair, and revelations about not just Bayard and his dealings, but also Geneva’s investments and motives put Beck in serious jeopardy. Pullen has written a solid, descriptive thriller that shows that he is well-informed and savvy about the newspaper business and the political world. Beck and Geneva are convincing denizens of the labyrinthine world of post–9/11 and post–Citizens United politics in Washington, and their competing interests in the midst of their affair keep the complex plot from feeling like familiar territory. Geneva, in particular, is quite a creation: a woman who easily excels in this play-for-keeps yet cordial world of deal-making and power plays but despises it and longs to escape. All the characters perform their roles well, even Beck’s trusty red armchair, and in Pullen’s hands the shady and sometimes-judicious relationships among government, business, and journalism are shown in a penetrating and astute manner.
This thriller offers an intricate puzzle with a few surprises and some strategic power grabs as a hardened journalist pursues the story of his career.