Faithless Elector/ Dark Network (Imogen Trager Series 1 & 2) by James McCrone-Reviews, Guest Post & Giveaway
Imogen Trager #2
by James McCrone
Genre: adult, contemporary, political suspense, thriller
Release Date: October 20, 2017
ABOUT THE BOOK: Release Date October 20, 2017
The FBI is leaking, the Attorney General is being undermined, politicians are spinning, and social media is in an uproar. No, it’s not another day at the White House, but the world of Dark Network.
Imogen Trager, the determined heroine of the “highly suspenseful” Faithless Elector is still searching for the truth, and the nation is without a president-elect. She’ll have to fight against time, a sinister network—even her own colleagues—to defeat the conspiracy to steal the presidency. Left on the edges of the investigation, she joins forces with Trey Kelly, an FBI network specialist, also a Bureau outsider. Together, they struggle to find the back door the conspirators may have left unlocked. They’ll have to hurry. There’s only a month until the inauguration of a new president..
REVIEW: DARK NETWORK is the second installment in James McCrone’s contemporary, adult IMOGEN TRAGER political drama, suspense thriller series focusing on FBI Agent Imogen ‘Gen’ Trager and the investigation into the electoral process of the United States of America. DARK NETWORK can be read as a stand alone but I recommend reading the series in order as Dark Network picks up immediately after the events of book one Faithless Elector.
NOTE: If you have not read FAITHLESS ELECTOR there may be some spoilers in my review. DARK NETWORK and FAITHLESS ELECTOR are fictional story lines and do not reflect the current political situation in the USA (conspiracy theories, aside).
Told from several third person points of view DARK NETWORK begins three days after the events of book one Faithless Elector wherein Agent Imogen Trager and Professor Duncan Calder uncovered a political nightmare of voter tampering and murder for hire in an effort to elect Republican James Christopher to the highest office in the land.
Imogen Trager has been held in seclusion by the FBI where she now faces an interrogation about the events leading to the death of rogue FBI agent Thomas Kurtz, and the shooting of her boss Agent Doug Pollack, and lover Duncan Calder. With the mysterious deaths of seven ‘electors’ and the murder of three more ‘faithless electors’ Imogen and the FBI will continue to search for the ‘dark network’ responsible starting with the voter discrepancies in Illinois. Imogen’s own investigation will pull in the FBI’s underground IT specialist Trey Kelly allowing the Agents and investigators to follow a group of unfamiliar names with connections to high ranking officials both in and out of the political eye. What ensues is the intense and thrilling manhunt as, once again, the ongoing discovery of a broken trail of bodies will hopefully lead to the people in charge.
DARK NETWORK looks at the American electoral process including the damaging potential of voter fraud; of ballot stuffing; threats and intimidation at the highest levels; and a murderous plot to ensure the ‘right’ candidate is ‘elected’ to the job. The intrigue is heart pounding; the action is full throttle; the threats are real but the sources indeterminate. The FBI knows there is a mole amid their ranks but uncovering the truth reveals a deeper connection to an unnamed source.
James McCrone pulls the reader into an exciting and tension filled tale that will captivate your imagination; blow your mind about potential conspiracies; and make you wonder when it all went wrong. Fiction that reads like reality; reality that feels like fiction-you be the judge where the black and white slowly bleeds into grey.
Copy supplied for review
Reviewed by Sandy
(Imogen Trager #1)
by James McCrone
Genre: adult, contemporary, political, suspense, thriller
ABOUT THE BOOK: Release Date March 2016
Everyone thought the election was over… A young researcher uncovers a series of mysterious deaths among Electors and must race against time and a secret, deadly efficient conspiracy. In an era characterized as cynical and paranoid, Faithless Elector poses a creditable threat to the integrity of the electoral process and the selection of the president. Faithless Elector is a timely, compelling novel for our turbulent times.
REVIEW: FAITHLESS ELECTOR is the first installment in James McCrone’s contemporary, adult IMOGEN TRAGER political suspense thriller series focusing on FBI Agent Imogen ‘Gen’ Trager and the investigation into the electoral process of the USA. This is thirty two year old FBI Agent and statistician Imogen Trager and forty seven year old Political Science Professor Duncan Calder’s story line.
NOTE: FAITHLESS ELECTOR is a fictional story line and does not reflect the current political situation in the USA (conspiracy theories, aside).
SOME BACKGROUND INFORMATION and DEFINITIONS: In the USA ‘Faithless Electors’ are members of the Electoral College who do not vote for their party’s designated candidate.(http://www.fairvote.org/faithless_electors )
The Electoral College consists of 538 electors. A majority of 270 electoral votes is required to elect the President. A state’s entitled allotment of electors equals the number of members in its Congressional delegation: one for each member in the House of Representatives plus two for the State’s Senators. The meeting of the electors takes place on the first Monday after the second Wednesday in December after the presidential election. The electors meet in their respective states, where they cast their votes for President and Vice President on separate ballots. Each state’s electoral votes are counted in a joint session of Congress on the 6th of January in the year following the meeting of the electors. The Vice President, as President of the Senate, presides over the count and announces the results of the vote. The President of the Senate then declares which persons, if any, have been elected President and Vice President of the United States.
The President-Elect takes the oath of office and is sworn in as President of the United States on January 20th in the year following the Presidential election.(https://www.archives.gov/federal-register/electoral-college/about.html )
Told from several third person points of view including Imogen Trager and Duncan Calder FAITHLESS ELECTOR follows the investigation into the fictional 2016 US Presidential election wherein Diane Redmond is elected the first female president of the United States with an Electoral College difference of only four votes 271- 267. Graduate student Matthew Yamashita, under the mentorship of Professor Duncan Calder, begins his doctoral dissertation on party identification beginning with an analysis of the recent election, and the examination of the members of the Electoral College only to discover a series of anomalies including the ‘accidental’ deaths of seven electors. Matthew’s research will catch the attention of some powerful people who will leave a trail of bodies in their wake including Matthew himself. Enter Duncan Calder and his former Political Science student FBI Agent Imogen Trager who will be caught in a storm of mystery and intrigue involving the FBI, Attorney General, and the powerful political elite.
We are introduced to grad student Matthew Yamashita; Imogen’s FBI partner Agent Thomas Kurtz, and her boss Agent Doug Pollack.
FAITHLESS ELECTOR reads like a sociological study; a political science and statistical crash course into the United States election process and the fall out of voter tampering at the highest levels. The intrigue is heart pounding as Duncan is targeted by an unknown source that is determined to shut down anyone connected with Matthew and Duncan’s original investigation. A cross country journey finds our hero struggling to survive as each step closer to the truth brings Duncan closer to his own demise. With FBI Agent Imogen Trager working alongside, our couple will be caught in political war of conspiracy, not of their making, as they face down the people willing to kill for their own agenda and candidate.
James McCrone writes an amazing and timely thriller with a little bit of romance thrown in for good measure; a fast paced, intense story of political intrigue and mystery; a relevant look into the political process and the real potential for fraudulent elections. The premise is intellectually stimulating, engaging and realistic; the characters are colorful, inspiring and passionate. FAITHLESS ELECTOR is a fascinating and riveting look at the conceivability of the unimaginable.
Copy supplied for review
Reviewed by Sandy
Sailing Too Close to the Wind
by James McCrone
A well-crafted political thriller should feel “real.” To do so, it has to flirt with real events. But sometimes I worry I’m sailing just a bit too close to the wind.
In search of verisimilitude, an author works to capture the mood of a given time, to color the scene with familiar, plausible events. I wrote the draft of Faithless Elector years ago, and it was finally published it March of 2016, long before either candidate was even the their party’s nominee. Frankly, as someone writing a thriller, I was less interested in what was really happening, than in working to capture the mood of the time, the sharp, singed odor of righteous, sanctimonious, incendiary anger; the mistrust and the erosion of constitutional order. That, itself, proved to be too close to the truth.
The book, of course, is not about this most recent presidential campaign, but about what could have happened. Indeed, it could all still happen: the weaknesses in the Electoral College system exploited by the Faithless Elector conspirators, sadly, are all too real. Worse, despite my best efforts to remain fictional, Faithless Elector presaged real-world Faithless Electors casting protest votes, as well as a campaign calling the very act of voting into question and using vote-rigging as a campaign tactic. There were even “manufactured” news stories. (How I wish I’d thought to call it “fake news!”)
In both books, the technical aspects of the conspiracy were the hardest for me to get right. In Faithless Elector I had to become something of an expert on Electors and the Electoral College. I had to ground myself in Constitutional law and statistical analysis models—not so I could bore you with it, gentle readers, but so I could portray those aspects accurately and maintain the pace of a page-turning thriller. Obviously, Faithless Elector doesn’t end in the same way as the true election. It was never meant as prophecy. Nevertheless, I wondered and worried about sailing my fictional course too close to the wind. I comforted myself, wrongly it turns out, that Dark Network would not be so potentially controversial or inadvertently relevant. How wrong I was!
As I worked to finish the draft with my editor back in April, the news was full of hacking, chicanery and fake news; and worse, the FBI itself had come under scrutiny, had itself become part of the story. Unfortunately (for me), to write Dark Network, I also had to become versed in the workings of the FBI, its hierarchy, its processes. I had to do research on how to track and hack cell phones, how to mask GPS signals. I had to figure out how much information was shared between clandestine organizations and the FBI, under what circumstances and by what mechanisms. At one point, I worried the FBI would come knocking, wondering what I was up to!
The epigram for Dark Network comes from Adam Smith, the 18th century Scottish philosopher: “Virtue is more to be feared than vice, because its excesses are not subject to the regulation of conscience.”
Dark Network is about power. The umbral conspirators are bent on taking power for themselves at the expense of everything we hold dear. The chilling, dark recognition at the heart of the plot is that the conspirators would say they were seizing power in order to preserve everything we hold dear. They are doing the right thing, they would say. And people who are doing the right thing are rarely troubled by scruples or conscience. Why would they be?
The tension for the characters in the novel centers on how far they’re prepared to go in defense of their own principles before they’ve abandoned them all. Let’s hope there are fewer real-world analogues this time out. But, given how many things I’ve written have come to pass, when you read the third and final book in the series, Consent of the Governed (fall 2018), you’ll know why I dread the sharp knock at the door.
James McCrone is the author of the Imogen Trager novels, Faithless Elector and Dark Network, suspense-thrillers about clandestine threats to the presidency. Coming next, Consent of the Governed!
James’s work both on an off the page deals with justice, politics and issues of personal and social responsibility. He received a Master of Fine Arts degree in Creative Writing from the University of Washington in Seattle. He is back in the US, in Philadelphia, after a year abroad in Oxford, UK.
James is graciously offering a signed, paper copy of FAITHLESS ELECTOR to ONE (1) lucky commenter, and a signed paper copy of DARK NETWORK to ONE (1) other lucky commenter at The Reading Cafe.
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