DIRT: An American Campaign is the latest book available by Mark LaFlamme. The first chapter is available for viewing on BookLocker. It was the strength of the writing in this chapter that made me want to read it.
Governor Frank Cotton is a Republican hoping to be named as the party’s candidate during the presidential primaries. The novel follows a mercenary’s search for Calvin Cotton, Governor Cotton’s son, before Governor Cotton’s opponents (and the media) get wind of Calvin’s grief-filled actions. The grave robbery of Calvin’s wife could bring down Governor Cotton’s campaign. Thomas Cashman, the mercenary, brings along drunken novelist Billy Baylor to help track down Calvin across several states.
This political thriller is fast paced and I was able to read it in a few days. LaFlamme was able to keep the book set in the present day with subtle references that aren’t likely to make the story feel dated in coming years. There are lots of characters on Governor Cotton’s campaign staff that come and go but are easy to remember when they reappear. The scenes between Billy Baylor and Thomas Cashman were the heart of the story for me and make up most of the novel. Their encounters with Calvin showed their strength of character. Both of them treat Calvin with respect when it would be easy to write him off as mentally disturbed.
On a deeper level the novel asks the reader, “What would you do to fulfill your ambitions?” Several of the characters come to a crossroads and must decide if they are going to take the hard, honest way, or the easy, questionable path.
Stop by on Wednesday for my interview with Mark about writing and DIRT: An American Campaign.