Allen Kent, in The Wager, has fashioned a yarn based on a bet gone awry. Two giants of the mass media bet they are powerful enough to get a man of their choice elected president. Predictably, one is a liberal, the other conservative.
The clash of egos lurks in the background as events unfold. A collection of powerful men has been compromised by sexual scandal. All are conservatives except one, the vice president. All cave to blackmail in order not to have their weaknesses exposed. This tilts the race for the Democratic nomination for president to a senator from Delaware, Clayton Mehrens.
He is the choice of Grant Huston of NBS.
Meanwhile, a devastating series of terror attacks leaves the electorate frightened and panicky. This tilts the GOP race toward the far-right governor of Oklahoma, Carter Graves.
He is the choice of Chase Rayborn of PAX News.
Neither imagined it would go so far. Both have dirty hands. Both are shocked. Both will pay.
The center of this compelling tale is occupied by Adam Zak, an extra-governmental operative, and Dreu Sason, a drop-dead-gorgeous, Renaissance woman who excels at surveillance. With the assistance of Sason, Zak gradually puts the pieces together. Naturally, they are in love. That, and frequent danger.
The story travels a lot. The greatest, most vividly detailed sequence takes place in the hellish oppression of a hidden cave in Budapest. The terror shifts from San Francisco Bay, to the Kansas City Airport, to a golf tournament in Charlotte, South Carolina, which happens to be in North Carolina, to coordinated attacks on chain stores. The author knows Budapest like the back of his hand, but about all he appears to know about Charlotte is that it has a nice golf course named Quail Hollow.
In the greater scheme, it is a minor error, and his intimate knowledge of Budapest plays a crucial part in the story.
The story has some relevance to the real-life Year of Trump. It’s nicely organized in its deft switches from the heroes to the bad guys to the two men who opened Pandora’s Box. The body count is high. Justice prevails, though not with much assistance from rules and regulations.
Take a look at The Wager for yourself here.
My enjoyment of this novel owes a bit to the fact that my first novel, The Audacity of Dope, also dealt with a seeming terrorist action that was not really perpetrated by Muslims. Mainly, though, Audacity is the story of a pot-smoking songwriter leading government operatives on a sometimes merry, sometimes dangerous, chase.
My new novel, Forgive Us Our Trespasses, is a small-town crime thriller about the corrosive effect of patronage, not to mention drugs, sex, corruption, a father and a son, and spoiled kids who are as out of control as their monstrous father.
Longer Songs is a collection of eleven short stories that all originated in songs I wrote.
Crazy of Natural Causes is about a Kentucky football coach who manages to rebuild and reinvent himself by dealing with absurdity on its own terms.
The Intangibles is a story of the South during the 1960s, dealing naturally with bigotry, desegregation, civil rights, and high school football.
Follow me on Twitter @montedutton, @hmdutton (more from the writer’s perspective), and/or @wastedpilgrim (irreverence stressed). I’m on Facebook at Monte.Dutton.