Wednesday, October 06, 2010
First Wednesday Book Review Club
STRANGLEHOLD, Ed Gorman
A few years ago, I read Ed Gorman's first book in the Dev Conrad series (SLEEPING DOGS) and asked him if he planned on writing another one. He said he was mulling it over. It felt like a perfect fit for Ed then and the second book just solidifies that feeling. Ed knows the world of political campaigns well and his portrait of it is completely convincing.
Dev is a political consultant, called in by campaigns to straighten out messes more often than not. Not as a "cleaner" or anything sinister, but more to give advice, succor, and to straighten out the kind of trouble a life in politics seems to encourage. Dev is a guy easy to spend time with. He reminds me of Jim Rockford or Travis McGee.
This time his client is a Congresswoman who's acting strangely and worrying her family and staff in the midst of a campaign. She's disappearing for hours at a time. Much of her support comes from her wealthy stepmother who doesn't like the behavior she's witnessing and is used to calling the shots. The candidate had a troubled youth and there's worry she's returned to her errant ways.
Dev follows the trail to some nasty adversaries and into the Congresswoman's back story, which is an interesting one. As I said, Ed Gorman knows politics and every note is pitch perfect here.
What I love about Ed's books are three-fold. He is a great instructor (for anyone learning to write) in the art of moving a plot along without any lag time. At the same time, he is able to work in little asides: humor, cynicism (and who over fifty doesn't have that) and his knowledge about how politics work--all without even seeming didactic or dull. Thirdly, and I have said this before, Ed likes women. He writes about them well; his protagonist treats them well. Do you know how rare this is lately?
If I was in trouble, Dev Conrad (or Ed Gorman) would be the first one I sought out. Look for this book: Stranglehold. The time is right for a look at politics through Ed Gorman's eyes. His vision is clear.
For more reviews, please visit Barrie Summy right here.