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Saturday, May 4, 2013

The Voting Machine: A Temo McCarthy Mystery

The Voting Machine: A Temo McCarthy Story by Dmitri Ragano
Losing a grip on the constituents of Sin City, aka Las Vegas, is a treacherous perch for an able bodied politician hoping to clean up in votes from a crucial swing state. Strange as it may seem, casting a vote has never been so dangerous. The Voting Machine is an unflinching atmospheric murder-mystery.

Temo McCarthy is the main character who has a connection with the murdered voters. The FBI decide to include Temo in the investigation of the mysterious deaths of two voters. Perhaps channeling the naysayer of doom, the book begins with a simple statement from Temo.

"My father always told me that no good deed goes unfinished. Try to do the right thing and sooner or later, it's going to bit you. Of course I hated to agree with anything he said, but in this case he had a point. I was in trouble again."

He obviously has a point.

As the story ensues, Temo finds himself between jobs. The usual kind let-down of "over-qualified" or the castigation of "not enough experience" constantly comes up as he is plagued with feelings of inadequacy. The author's raw emphasis on such a situation gives the reader pause. Most readers will feel an even deeper connection and identify with the plight of the main character.

"I felt more worthless with every passing day. A man who cannot provide for his family is really not a man at all. I hated myself intensely, because that's what losers do. It was just like I had always feared: deep down inside, a loser is always a loser, even if he wins once or twice along the way."

But it doesn't stop there. The plot intensifies as two voters are murdered inside a voting booth without any sort of visible agitation. An investigation reveals something even more sinister, and a simple murder-mystery is turned upside down.

Right or wrong, true vs. false is thrown out the window. There is a sliding grey scale that each character in this book must venture and decide upon. It is a realistic point in certain aspects, such as Brenda with her PTSD and Anabelle's rehabilitation centers. The reader is drawn into a provocative story line that is honest and gritty.

This is the second book in a series of Temo McCarthy stories. I have never read the first book, but The Voting Machine stands well on it's own. I did not miss any character subplots or extraneous references that would have muddled a great book.

Ragano is an exceptional storyteller; it is evident in his eloquent summation of detrimental circumstances that paints an intriguing landscape for heroes and villains alike. It was indeed quite a pleasure to read such a well executed book.

Dmitri Ragano is an ex-journalist and technology consultant in San Francisco and Tokyo. He currently resides in Irvine, California with his wife and daughter.

The Voting Machine by Dmitri Ragano, 2012 ISBN 978-0-615-65940-4

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