"Political Suicide" by Alan Russell
Reviewed by Steve Chaput
When a book starts out with the hero reciting General MacArthur’s farewell to West Point, you really don’t know what else to expect.
The book then jumps ahead more than a decade to the present day where Will Travis, having been ousted from the military academy and the career path his family had long followed, is now working as an investigator in his own small agency. Will has a gift for memory and for being very observant, which works well in his role as a sort of "mystery shopper" for hire.
What he does is visit restaurants, bars, hotels and other establishments to observe just how well the employees are or are not doing their jobs. He then submits a report to inform upper management or the owners just what is being done in their absence.
Alan Russell does a great job bringing Will and his colleagues to life. In fact, it would be a shame if the author doesn’t use Will, Jenny, Stevie and other members of TLR Enterprises in another book. To be honest, though, the end of the book may take Will in a whole other direction, so we’ll have to wait and see.
While on assignment, Will notices that a female bar patron has just been slipped something and he goes to her rescue. It quickly becomes apparent that this is far more than the "date rape" he suspected and is in fact a kidnapping . Claire Harrington, whom Will rescues, is the daughter of a former Senator who may or may not have committed suicide. It’s the uncertainty of that which brought Claire to that bar and it soon involves Will in a fatal shootout. Will finds himself drawn to Claire and it’s possible that she may return his affections. Unfortunately, Claire has several secrets that put both her and Will in constant danger and on the run from law enforcement.
It seems that one of the leading Presidential candidates has a hidden agenda, part of which has already caused a number of deaths and may end up adding Will and Claire to that number. Will knows that there are people he can trust, but what isn’t clear is if Claire is one of them.
Along the way we get a brief history of dueling in the U.S. and how it helped shape the early American nation. Russell also gives us several chapters of the late Senator’s autobiographical book and other off-topic tidbits. In lesser hands, I think that some of this would be padding, but Russell brings it all together in the end.
I would have given the book a higher mark if the end didn't seem a bit too pat, but given everything else I’m going to go with a better than passing grade. I’m also hoping to see Will and some of his friends again.