Top positive review
5.0 out of 5 starsDespite a Well-Worn Stereotypical Political Conspiracy, this Story Grabbed Me & Wouldn't Let Go.
Reviewed in the United States 🇺🇸 on November 12, 2015
Fate of the Union
Length: Print, 320 pages, Audible, 8 hours 21 minutes.
Amazon Kindle Sales Rank when this review was posted: 122.
This is an intriguing fictional political suspense novel, the second in a series featuring Joe Reeder and Patti Rogers.
When you read that it is a political suspense novel, you can probably figure that the story arc is going to include a hard-edged military anti-establishment character and that the language will be seedy, (what my mother always referred to as mule skinner language). If the f-bomb annoys you, look for a different story.
Although this stereotype has been around in print for a couple generations, it seems it will last for much longer. Certainly, it still works with this PI, as brought to life in this great story by Max Allan Collins and Matthew V. Clemens.
Although this is a series, I did not read the first book and don't believe I enjoyed this story any the less. Also, there is no cliffhanger ending, although there clearly we are left aware that follow on work related the this story is coming, someday.
Note: I discovered this book through Audible and got into it so fully, I added the Kindle version a short while ago. What astounds me most is that until this book, I was not aware of Max Allan Collins, despite his great success with Private Eye books, and a score of TV credits that includes Mike Hammer, CSI, etc.
EXCERPT: The below excerpt should provide a good feel for the pace and flow of this story:
“Then . . . then we showed up.”
"If he recognized me as we drove past—this was likely our blond perp—he knew he’d scored a bonus round. If you and I hadn’t chatted a while in the car, we’d have already been inside when he hit the detonator.”
"We . . . we’d have been . . . scattered all over this parking lot . . . with the rest of the debris.”
Sirens sang their distant song. This was the boonies, but somebody had seen the flames rising into the sky, and/ or heard the big boom.
Their breathing slowing, the air clearing some, the smoke on its upward trajectory, the two got up and had a look at their rescued corpse. Only the figure’s back was charred black, the front of him appearing relatively normal—his expression almost serene, as if he’d slept through the other side of him getting cooked.
"Dead before the explosion,” Rogers said.
Reeder pointed out the two punctures in the blackened back of his neck—barely visible but the indentations were there, all right.
"Double-tapped,” Rogers said.
Reeder nodded and looked back toward the trees on the other side of which was the service road. Just then flames illuminated something over that way, and glass winked and blinked at him.
A sniper scope.
"Gun!” he said, and then came the muzzle flash.
They both hit the snowy cement, sending up puffs of white, then each scrambled around behind the car, Reeder around front, Rogers around back. The shooter had seen that action through his scope, because two more rounds slammed into the car, and then another took the back left tire, which hissed as if a villain had come on stage, and hadn’t he?
Each sat with their backs to the passenger side of the Fusion. Breathing hard again, Reeder said, “You got extra magazines?”
"Yeah. Two.” “
"Good. Keep him busy.”
"What do you mean, keep him busy?”
"Do it.” From around the rear of the car, Rogers threw shots into the line of trees. She had a handgun and the shooter had a rifle and the advantage of firepower and distance were his. But she kept it up, the sharp cracks of her Glock rising over the rumbling murmur of the burning buildings.
She was shooting as Reeder took off, very low, right toward the facing fires, running between them and skirting around the building at left and staying parallel to it. He couldn’t remember the last time he’d run on snow. He was trying to be careful in the dark, trying not to trip over any chunks of debris, and was grateful for the minimal moonlight and even fire glow, assuming it didn’t give him away.
As he reached where the building ended and concrete parking lot yawned to a strip of snowy landscape with the line of trees waiting, he climbed out of his Burberry and left it behind, his dark suit better suited for his purpose.
With the night alternating pops of the Glock and resonant reports from the rifle, Reeder headed over to where the service road curved around behind the buildings, the line of trees ending where that curve began. As the shooter exchanged shots with Rogers, the rifle’s scope would not be swung way the hell over here. Or so Reeder told himself as he kept very low on the asphalt, as low as possible and still run.
Any other Tuesday night, this industrial park would be all but silent. An occasional car would thrum by, the odd owl might hoot, tree leaves might rustle with wind; but tonight was a cacophony of howling flames, screaming sirens, crunching snow, all punctuated by the bellows of his own labored breathing.
Overall, despite the thin premise of the story so reliant on a worn stereotype, this is a terrific story worth reading, hearing, or reading and hearing.