Vinson’s first novel centers on a serial killer targeting Internal Revenue Service officers in early 1970s Ohio.
Vinson uses his years of experience as a revenue officer to chronicle how mentally unstable 13-year-old Bobby Bain grows into a psychopath determined to eliminate the officers of a northern Ohio collection group. Vinson’s dark chronicle begins when Bain’s father commits suicide after the IRS seizes his welding shop. Bain has already sexually assaulted and murdered a female classmate. He controls his anger to train himself in the arts of arson, concealment and escape. Sixteen years later, Bain emerges from the woods to shoot his first federal tax collector. Excited by his success, he fixes his sights on the officer’s replacement: pretty, inexperienced Hillary Weber. But her fellow officers, particularly a young bachelor who wants her for his girlfriend, are not prepared to let her go easily. Vinson takes the reader on a long journey through rural towns and farms. He shows us the secrets that holdouts to the federal tax system, known as “tax protestors,” hide in abandoned barns and old homes. Vinson’s lengthy, descriptive narratives accurately portray backwoods Ohio in a story neither trite nor predictable. However, many chapters are too long and some scenes, particularly the ending, seem implausible. As Vinson reveals how Bain becomes increasingly successful at committing murder, readers will start to question whether Bain will ultimately become the cat or the mouse in this game. Vinson does an excellent job of pacing the book. His cast of characters, which ranges from ragged local sheriffs to poverty-stricken mothers to corrupt city collectors, is unique and well thought-out. But fans of legal and police thrillers set in big cities should take heed: there are few clean-cut, intellectual figures in this part of the Buckeye State.
Vinson’s book is a thoughtful, innovative page-turner featuring a villain who makes taxmen look like angels.