Spellbinder press, ISBN 978-0983213857
August 1, 2011, 264 pages
It is the the not too distant future, 2023, and things are not looking to bright.
Wild weather, terrible storms, gas so expensive that few drive or fly, 20% unemployment, parks full of homeless people, few with med-cards that allow them to afford to get medical care.
But the issues with scarce medical care has created a new job opportunity for those with some skill and knowledge and that is how ex-police detective Lara Evans finds herself working as a free lance paramedic and find herself pulling up to the house of a man who has been shot.
Danger is always possible in her job but she does not expect to get shot at by the fleeing assailant. Nor to find that the man she patches up from the gunshot is the Federal Employment Commissioner, the man in charge of the very important competition, the Gauntlet, that she will be starting tomorrow. Lara will be leaving her home in Eugene, Oregon and flying to Washington DC to compete against 49 other competitor, one from each state. It is televised across the nation, with millions voting and a huge prize from a corporate sponsor that will bring much needed new jobs to the winner's state. Think of The Hunger Games for adults, but without all the death.
So when the commissioner begs Lara not to report the gunshot, claiming that he was shot by a jealous male lover, something that will ruin him if found out, she feels sorry for him. But when he says that he can make or break her in the competition, against her best instincts she decides to keep her mouth shut. A decision that will have consequences, deadly consequences.When she arrives in DC and recognizes the man she saw fleeing shooting at one of the contestants briefing and then her roommate turns up dead, she finds herself not only the number one suspect but also believes she may be the shooter's next intended victim. Even if she has no idea why.
Wow, this is a book that needs more attention!
When I went to enter it on my Library Thing account I found I was the only one that owns this book among the members there. How can that be? And let me tell you, that just is not right because this is a very good, very entertaining book. Folks, you need to go out and buy a copy.
Lara is a great character, kick ass, smart and very capable but with a troubled past. What more can you want from a hero? Oh, did I mention that while she is the oldest competitor in the contest, starting with 50 to1 odds, she is soon winning one round after another and winning the voting TV audience to her side as well? The Gauntlet competition is interesting and very believable, and except for a few electric shocks, something I would not be surprise to see on TV next season...granted, with a little less at stake. And an unexpected little romance with a handsome cop shows Lara still has a vulnerable side, but is cynical enough about for her to stay in charcater.
The story is told from two points of view, Lara in the present and a homely, lonely young man named Paul Madsen, going back months, and at first, it is not clear how the stories are connected. But don't worry...soon it will start to all make sense and the technique works very well, very smoothly in this book. It is very well written and the chapters just flew by. The only small flaw, to my mind, was a rather sudden ending to the story, an ending that seemed rushed compare to the pace of the rest of the book. But the ending did leave me hopeful that there was a set up for some future installments with Lara and her friends back in Oregon, and that is a good thing.
Meanwhile, I may just have to check out some of Ms. Sellers' previous books, including her Detective Jackson series in which, I understand, Lara plays a minor role.