Casey Cheng, an ambitious local news reporter in San Diego, California, and Sarah Price, a campaign worker for San Diego Congressman Matt Cason, alternate the narration in this timely political thriller. Both women are targets of white-nationalist misogynist trolls: Casey because she is Asian and visible, and Sarah because she gained unwanted notoriety in the past, from which she is trying to escape.
The neo-Nazi white supremacists featured in the book are of a piece; i.e., they are unsuccessful in life – whether in terms of education, work, or women. They are full of rage and, thanks to online forums, feel they have support and encouragement. Is that true to real life? Fortunately, I don’t actually know first-hand.
When the story begins, Casey is covering an active shooting, and gets injured. She wants to get back to work though, and decides to investigate the life of the dead shooter and perhaps gain insights into why he committed this horrific act.
Additional episodes of mass shootings follow, with politicos on the left – like Cason – in the crosshairs. Thus Casey and Sarah begin to interact as the ensuing violence brings them together.
There are a lot of issues covered in this thriller, from online bullying to gun rights to sexual harassment and violence. In addition, the “usual” issues of relationship conflicts absorb the characters as well. While all of the issues are plausibly connected in the story, the writing seems to be a bit heavy-handed and clunky at times. In addition, there are two plot threads running through the story that are totally left unresolved at the end. Is this supposed to be the first of a series? There is no indication of that. The author may be saying we just can’t know the answer to some things. Or she may have just decided she was done with the story. Either way, it leaves readers hanging, and left this reader, at least, unsatisfied.
Evaluation: For those who enjoy thrillers that take the headlines and spin them into even scarier scenarios, this book will fill the bill.
Published by Midnight Ink, an imprint of Llewellyn Worldwide, 2018