Electing To Murder - Thriller (McRyan Mystery Series)

Electing To Murder - Roger Stelljes Don't know WHY GR doesn't have the right book cover and info about this book... it's recently released, but still....ANYWAY, we have a change of pace in this book. Mac gets pulled into homicide and politics and potential voter fraud via electronic voting machines in this fast-paced thriller filled with suspense and intrigue.The Setting: 2012 - about 1 week before the presidential election. No, it's not Obama vs. Romney - of course not! It's the Republican vice presidential candidate (Republicans are currently in office in this one) versus the Democratic candidate, current governor of Minnesota.We're introduced to Dara Wire, an early 30s former-FBI agent who's trailing the Republican presidential candidate's campaign manager around the country for the Democratic candidate's campaign manager. See, Connolly, the Republican presidential campaign manager, is known to be oily and do anything to get around the rules. His idol is Joe Kennedy Sr,, for heaven's sakes! The event that sets everything off takes place in Kentucky, at a cabin in the woods, where some big meeting is going down between Connolly and several mysterious men. Dara is there, but she's clueless about what's going on. She gets some pictures, but there are 2 other guys that she doesn't know in the position that she really wants. So Dara goes to find another position to take pictures and watch, when all hell breaks loose. A limo pulls up, and Dara only gets a shot of the security men and a leg coming out of the limo. But that's when someone spots the other 2 men taking pictures, and shots are fired. Dara can't take the chance on being followed, so she gets out of there - fast.Fast forward 12 hours or so, and Mac is pulled into a homicide investigation at a rundown motel in downtown St. Paul. No ID or luggage or anything in the room. They're only lucky to discover a boarding pass that slipped behind the bed. The pass says that this is Jason Stroudt, who turns out to be a DC/political blogger... and one of the 2 guys that Dara spotted at the meeting the night before. Of course, Mac doesn't know that - yet.As Mac follows the leads, he meets Dara, because The Judge hired her. So Mac gets pulled into the political side, while trying to keep the focus on the murder. In the process, Dara ends up shooting the hired killer after the other guy at the Kentucky cabin, who's at the home of the Judge's 2nd in command. Montgomery, Jason Stroudt's partner in biz, is trying to show/tell something important when the meeting is interrupted by the killer. Dara was on the trail, and manages to save one of the people in the house, but the 2nd in command (Dem campaign) and Montgomery are killed. When Mac arrives, the body of the hired killer is gone - plenty of blood, though.Mac arranges to meet Dara, The Judge, and Sally at the McRyan Pub. But once again, whoever's behind all of this is in step, and a drive-by shooting ensues, wounding Dick Lich. Dara and Mac team up with the Judge's resources to track down the killer or killers.Which leads us and them on a merry chase around the country, ending up in D.C. with meetings with the FBI Director and the Attorney General. Seems all of this is about electronic voting machines with memory cards that change every 1 in 5 votes for the Democratic presidential candidate to a vote for the current Republican vice president.But can Mac and Dara prove who's behind it? And can they catch the really Big Fish, the Bishop, who's funding the entire thing and sending out his private mercenary team out to do the dirty work? They've already got 7+ murders and bodies to deal with, can Dara and Mac figure it out and prove it in time?================LIKE* A lot to like about this book - it's fast-paced, so there's no dragging. Lots of twists and turns, and good progressive disclosure of the real plot and who's behind it. But, as usual, there are almost too many players involved. That's real life, but it's sometimes hard to remember who's who, like that Duffy is the FBI agent in MN. Many of the "usual" cops and people are relegated to the background on this one, as Mac & Dara jet around the country.* LOVE Dara Wire. I know Sally & Mac are together, currently. But I'd like to at least see Dara and Mac as partners at work, if not in life. Maybe because I got to actually KNOW Dara through this last book, she just feels like a better fit for Mac (IMO) than Sally. But I don't really know Sally... other than the glimpses I've caught of her so far. She was featured as a secondary player in the 1st book (The St. Paul Conspiracy), but after that she was relegated to the background. With Sally off to DC and a political career... well, I just don't see that working out for Mac.* Good insight into politics. Makes me realize that it's as important to look at the campaign manager as the candidate - often that person becomes Chief of Staff or takes on an important cabinet or inner government position. And while the poor vice president in this story was shafted, it's still important to know who's running your campaign. If you're not in alignment with that person and totally on top of what he/she is doing in running your campaign, how can you expect to run a government? (OK, so that's probably really hard for the candidate, since at the national level, the party likely chooses for you. And the candidate is running around, doing what he/she needs to do, trusting that the campaign manager has the best interests of the party and the candidate and platform in mind.)CONCERNS* With Sally likely leaving to pursue a political career in DC, will Mac go, too? Does that mean we'll lose touch with all these great characters we've come to know and love in Minnesota? I don't want to lose Dick Lick, Flannagan, Rock, Riles, Hisle, or any of the other folks we've met along the way. But I don't see how Sally and Mac can do a long-distance relationship for too long without breaking up. Maybe that's the point. I wouldn't fight it - Sally's OK, but somehow, she's not my cup of tea. But a break up would be tough... because Sally is Mac's 1st relationship since his divorce (and vice versa). They're supposed to be deeply involved and in love. Breaking up would really be hard to do for these two.* If Mac goes to DC, will he become a Fed? I can see the FBI (among others) wanting to hire Mac, especially after this last book. Mac would become a little fish in a big pond, which might be really good for him, personally and professionally. He wouldn't know everyone or be connected to everyone; sure he's got some heavy, useful connections, but maybe a bid dose of reality would hit Mac. (See my NITS/Beefs, below.)Except I don't see Mac doing well in an environment where he'd have his hands tied. And he would, if he joined the feds. * Mac's profit from his investment in the Grand Brew coffee shops makes him independently wealthy. But he's not the kind of guy to sit still. And his series means nothing if he's not investigating SOMETHING. So how does all this $ come into play? Will Mac create his own private investigations company? That doesn't feel right, either...Will the $ come in-between Mac and Sally? Will his ex come back and try to hone in on that money? True, Mac effectively shut her down in the prequel, but that doesn't mean she won't try. Frankly, I'd like to see her come back and try something or be involved in the next murder.NITS/Beefs* Usually, when a governor runs for office, he/she resigns. The campaign focus is so hot and heavy, it's tough to actually govern. Now, I realize there are exceptions to that rule, but still... It seems unlikely that Governor Thomson wouldn't have stepped down. But what do I know?* Getting "the Bishop" is cool and provides a great ending. But really? Everything tied up so nice and neat at the end of the book? Not reality. I'd like to see the Big Bad Guy get away, like he would in real life - or remain unscathed and untouchable. That's more like real life. And Mac needs a good dose of that real life. He's too charmed... too charming... too good. Yes, I know he's dogged and determined and logical and all of that. He's a GREAT cop - not denigrating his skills. But he wouldn't win every single one every single time. It's about time that he doesn't.* As with Mac, his dad, Simon, is just TOO GOOD. Everyone who's anyone in law enforcement knows the McRyans.... great for the books, but really? Sure, someone at the federal level would look up the info. But does EVERYONE connected have to personally know Mac or his dad? And there's NO HINT of anything at all in the background at any time? Look - my dad was in law enforcement and he had a distinguished career, even in his small fish pond. But *everyone* has regrets - some bad guy that got away, some case that didn't go as planned, some action that wasn't technically illegal but came back to cause trouble later - something! Mac and his dad are simply TOO GOOD... it's time for a dose or reality in more ways than one.* Personal stuff - Mac and Sally seem to LIVE their jobs. We know very little about their private lives, except for the gratuitous sex scenes between them in this book. Yeah, in the last book, we went from PG-13 for violence to R/Mature to include language and sex. But it doesn't necessarily feel organic; it feels as if the author's attempting to insert "grit" or kowtow to the demand for sex, language, and more violence. OK, the language is more "real" in the environment where guys are nicknamed "Dick Lick" and "Pecker".But we have YET to see Mac & Sally really interact with anyone outside business or their business associates. Now, I get that in this book, since the time frame is compressed to 7 days. And because Sally's been busy with the campaign. But what about her family? How do they feel about Mac and this relationship? Does she have brothers & sisters? Are her parents living? What about Sally's ex?Mac has a mother and 3 sisters. Other than a brief mention of one of the sisters in the last book, nothing. Only cousins and uncles in the force or at the McRyan Pub. Why? Shouldn't we know more about this family dynamic? Shouldn't Mac have told his family about his profit? What about the friends that Mac invested with - we don't know them at all. Don't they count? Mac's been business partners with them for years.It just seems that BY NOW, we'd have some insight into Mac's life (and Sally's, if she's going to remain important to Mac) other than the business side. Mac doesn't seem all that well-rounded simply by the written page. And yet Mac does seem to be a well-rounded guy. So tell us MORE about his off-duty life!!!============All that said, I really like this series, and I really like Mac. I have a soft spot for Minnesota, since I spent from 3rd grade to 12th grade growing up in rural Minnesota, 1 hr north of the Twin Cities.I like this series, and I really look forward to the next book... hope that this author will get the press he deserves, and I, for one, will go off to Amazon.com and write reviews on the McRyan series book there, too.WHEN'S THE NEXT BOOK? (Yeah, I know, this one just came out...)