Book Review: Primary Target by John Billheimer

Primary Target
An Owen Allison Mystery Book 6
John Billheimer
The Mystery Company, September 2019
ISBN 978-1-932325-59-1
Hardcover

Properly performing the duties of almost any job means acquiring, and often retaining, information. Perhaps creating possession of something, that in the worker-role, is simply par for the course. But, to someone else, ensuring that this little nugget of knowledge is never made public is of the upmost importance. And, of course, time is of the essence.

So, when the one partner from Owen Allison’s defunct consulting firm dies unexpectedly, it is odd, but not suspicious. At least initially. Of course, Owen does have a lot on his mind.

His return to his home state of West Virginia, to care for his elderly mother, is fortuitous for the county sheriff. It’s an election year. Reporter Tom O’Day has made it crystal clear that he is on the scene to ensure a fair election. This is the state, after all, that sees vote-buying as a boost to local economy.

Sheriff Thad Reader runs a tight ship in Raleigh County and if any of his citizens still support the old-fashioned way of rigging elections, one vote at a time, he will be the one to handle it; not some big-city reporter. The sheriff knows that the collapse of Owen’s consulting firm was political, not a result of poor performance. Personally, he knows that Owen won’t let that cloud his judgement. Particularly imperative here, because the family that crushed the consultants is the very same one campaigning to become a presidential candidate.

While poll-watching may not have been his specialty, Owen was grateful for the income and was happy to be of assistance. He wanted to put his full focus on the voters, which proved difficult due to the tragedies that kept coming from his old business. Not one to believe in coincidences, Owen begins to suspect that the Davison family has several more skeletons in the closet and at least one of them is buried in the old files that were divvied up among the partners.

Until recently, it would be difficult for me to imagine a political plot that could be fast-paced, provocative and down-right compelling. Today, in these Not-So-United-States though, Mr. Billheimer’s Primary Target, his sixth story featuring Owen Allison, does not seem at all far-fetched. In fact, I enjoyed it so much, I’m going back for the first five.

Reviewed by jv poore, September 2019.