Monday, June 09, 2008

Review: The Bribe by William P. Wood

This is the latest Joe Bob Briggs review. They aren't posting them, or much of anything else on the site, but I want to finish off the final batch of titles they sent along.
The Bribe by William P. Wood
Published by Leisure Books; ISBN - 0843957034

When a controversial California Congressman and a cab driver are killed in front of an apartment building, where the Representative lives with his mistress, things may not be as simple as initially thought. After a possible robbery or car-jacking gone wrong are ruled out rumors begin circulating. Finally, Homeland Security and the White House announce that this may be a terrorist act. Things quickly become more difficult for two Sacramento homicide detectives and the Deputy District Attorney.

As the investigation continues, Detective Terry Nye and his partner, Rose Tafoya discovers that the FBI is not being totally forthcoming with certain information. They find on their own that the Congressman has been taking bribes and that his announcement that he was calling for legislation to stop this type of thing may have led to his murder. From the Congressman’s greedy wife, who may have political ambitions of her own, to his secretive head of staff and a shady, lobbyist with ties to the current D.A. there is no shortage of suspects.

Wood alternates the narrative from that of the detectives to that of Deputy D.A. Cooper as each begins looking into the career and private life of the dead Congressman. The trail leads from the former haunts of the one-time military hero turned politician to the halls of Congress in D.C. and back again. His mistress fears for her own life and everybody from the wife to the Congressman’s ‘business associates’ are hiding things from the police. Barred by the FBI from investigating certain aspects of the case, Cooper, Nye & Tafoya must follow the limited leads they do have before things spiral out of control and the case is taken out of their hands.

With a dozen different suspects and the personal lives of the lead characters to follow Wood doesn’t make it easy for the reader. Some aspects of the case go back several decades and it becomes obvious that, just as the detectives, we aren’t privy to every angle. As Joe Bob used to say in his video reviews, there’s way too much plot getting in the way of the story. I don’t want to accuse writer Wood of padding, but I think the tale could have been told in a swifter fashion.

Overall a good book with a successful outcome, and I enjoyed the digs along the way at the current political climate and jabs at the ‘war on terror.’ While I liked the main characters and would like to see them return in another book, I think the author might want to pare things down the next time around. I believe that choosing to focus on either Cooper or the two detectives would help things along.

Two and a half stars.
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