Two of the main appeals of David Levien's novels are his intricate plots and multi-dimensional characters.
In "13 Million Dollar Pop,' Frank Behr is a relatively new employed at the Caro Group, private investigators and security consultants. As the story opens, he's checking apartments with his girlfriend, Susan, who is nearing delivery of their first child.
Frank is doing a personal security detail for another employee who is with his family. This was supposed to be an easy assignment. Someone tries to kill the client, Bernard Kolodnik, but Frank's quick reflexes saves him.
Frank is praised for his actions and the next day, the governor appoints Kolodink as a replacement for the senior senator of Indiana who resigns to fight advanced prostate cancer.
Everyone seems satisfied with the results but Frank is an investigator and wants answers. When he asks about the official investigation, he's stonewalled.
The story describes a real estate developer, Lowell Gantcher. He was developing land which included a casino but when it doesn't get approval Gauncher becomes overextended. He made a deal with Kolodnik's campaign manager, Shug Sanders, to deliver Kolodnik's support, Sanders would get 13 million dollars. However the economy and other factors stalled the development . Now that Kolodnik is an official, he leaves his personal business dealings behind and Gantcher feels that Kolodnik is a barrier to the deal.
The author explores Frank's goal of solving the crime. We also witness Frank's tender moments with Susan as her delivery nears. He is also a man who helps people who are being unjustly treated as when he tries to help his boss from a serious family situation.
The pacing of the novel is masterful. Things are calm at the start of the story but they speed up like a hurricane as the action continues and suspense mounts. Each character is fully drawn and comes alive in the story.
This is one of the best mysteries of the year and shouldn't be missed.