Leppert — a former Indiana contract lobbyist himself — does a beautiful job of bringing to life the sordid world of state politics: the backroom meetings, the calculating way businesses engage lobbyists, the golf outings where the line between the politics and sport almost disappears. He also nicely describes the Indianapolis 500 as both a community-building event and yet another networking opportunity: "There were plenty of bigwigs to see and shake hands with…" The extensive legislative skullduggery, and the huge cast, makes the narrative hard to follow at times, but the richly drawn scenes and engaging main characters keep readers invested until the end.
Indeed, the leads lend a welcome emotional heft to the suspense. Will may be in a shady business, but he's no longer satisfied and is trying to turn his life around. The fresh look he gives himself in a church-oriented support group comes across as a convincing development, a touching counterpart to his wheeler-dealer activities. His growing relationship with the hippie-like Flip and her daughter is also affecting, as Flip's influence helps Will change. "I couldn’t be anything but good if I wanted to be in her life," he says. Will's emotional growth as he navigates the political intrigues will have readers cheering for his redemption.
Takeaway: Aficionados of political thrillers will enjoy the machinations as a lobbyist battles for his own salvation.
Great for fans of: Walter Kirn, R. Kenneth Godwin’s Lobbying and Policymaking: The Public Pursuit of Private Interests..
Design and typography: A-
Marketing copy: B+