Elimination by Ed Gorman is the final political thriller in the Dev Conrad series where the investigator must figure out who tried to kill a Congress member running for re-election (available July 1, 2015).
It seems possible that my lifelong interest in the American political process is what drew me to read Sleeping Dogs, the first in the political mystery series featuring Dev Conrad, a seasoned political consultant with a background as an investigator for the U. S. Army.
But I freely admit that the appeal for me was the author’s name: Ed Gorman. I’d been a Gorman groupie for years, and the thought of a new series written by the master of mystery, horror, and westerns had me running to the nearest bookstore. Every few years over the past decade, a new Dev Conrad book would be released, bringing the combined allure of politics and murder. I relished each one.
Still, many of my favorite series have come to an end and this one is no exception. I must confess that I had more than one tear in my eye when I finished reading Elimination, the final mystery in the Dev Conrad series.
When the story opens, Dev’s political consulting firm is engaged in securing the re-election of Congress Member Jessica Bradshaw. Her opponent, Michael Dorsey, and his supporters are far to the right of Bradshaw’s positions, and the fight promised to be a strenuous one. Dev fears the worst right before a scheduled debate between the two candidates.
We’d heard rumors that men (and maybe women) with guns would show up that night to protest against the appearance of our congresswoman, who had apparently just returned from ‘Islamia’ where she’d learned how to implement Sharia law and had helped to plan the ultimate invasion of Islamists on the red, white and blue soil of the USA.
Sure enough, before the auditorium was full, before the debate even had a chance to begin, the trouble started. But trouble is something Dev Conrad takes in stride. He only hopes that there will be no real damage done:
I heard the shouting before I was able to see, far down the wide central lane, what was going on. A pair of men toting AK-47s were walking fast toward the building. They were being pursued by another pair of men, these two happening to be police officers.
Let the drama begin.
Once the police had the men and their guns well in hand, Dev turned his focus on the audience and the debate. He was pleased with the performance of his candidate, but her opponent’s behavior irritated Dev to no end, and he defined it with deep political cynicism.
The son of a bitch never managed to answer a question straight on; in boxing that was called slipping a punch. In politics that was called making your case.
With his candidate coming out of the debate looking like a winner, Dev takes a few hours off for drinks with a campaign colleague but his respite doesn’t last too long—someone has taken a shot at Congress Member Bradshaw. Rumors quickly circulate that the shooting was a set-up, a plan to round up sympathy for the candidate.
Then the weapon is found in the car of a campaign intern, a kid who Dev believes couldn’t possibly have anything to do with any political chicanery. Dev plunges in; ready to use his finely hones skills, both political and investigative to find out what is really going on.
This is politics so nothing is as it seems, and no person is exactly who he pretends to be. Through it all, the one person you can count on to be true to his own personal code of ethics is Dev.
Elimination is Ed Gorman at his finest. The writing is sharp, the tone is witty, and the people are exactly what they should be—political beings who we can’t quite like and can’t quite hate. Dev Conrad leaves us on an extremely high note.
With a tear and a smile I say goodbye to Dev Conrad. But we have a new cycle of Presidential election politics staring us in the face, so I am sure that I will speculate “what would Dev think” more than once between now and November 2016.
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Agatha Award winning novelist Terrie Farley Moran is the author of the beachside Read 'Em and Eat cozy mystery series including Well Read, Then Dead and Caught Read-Handed. Her web address is www.terriefarleymoran.com.