John Sandford's got his Mad on. About the dirty world of politics and spin control, about a sensationalist, rude media --ironic since Sandford's real personae is a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist. Everybody lies, everybody manipulates, there are no pure hearts, there's no innocence in DEAD WATCH.
Former Senator Lincoln Bowe is missing, then found dead. Decapitated, shot, burned and tied with barbed wire, no doubt the victim of Democratic Party politics -- unless the Republicans did it. The president calls in Jake Winter, forensic political fixer, to sort out the mess and keep the president's underwear clean. Is the dead senator a victim of the Democratic Party's storm troopers, the Republican Party's election planning, or was he killed by a gay lover? Winter knows the answers lie deep within the layers of election planning bureaucracies of the two political parties. A scandal is about to leak, and each party is planning its stain. People will die, people will go to jail. Who's to blame, or is everybody to blame?
One might think that Winter has few allies tip-toeing through this political sewer. Au contraire. Seemingly, everybody wants to help: Party honchos; the governor of Virginia; the leader of the Watchmen, the Democratic Party's Storm Troopers, even the hot and [...] widow of the gay dead senator. But everyone's got an agenda, and Winter must choose his bedmates carefully, or it could be his life next turned to goo. Winter may be cold and ruthless, but man, the guy can cut red tape. This is a dark thriller, at least as dark as Sandford's Prey series. And many of the characters are similar: Jake Winter smacks of Lucas Davenport; Danzig smacks of Rose Marie; the characters still say "Ah, man" and "Ah jeez." Only this time, there's no top 100 list of Rock 'n Roll.
I didn't enjoy this book as much as Sandford's Prey or Kidd series. While I'm just as disgusted with the media, spin and electioneering as Sandford apparently is, this book exaggerates those realities, and it has the feel of a disgusted author shouting, "ENOUGH!" It's a good read, though, no doubt about it -- it's Sandford after all. But I'm hoping this is a stand-alone, not the birth of a new series.