Tuesday, October 2, 2018
Book Review: 'Inland Intrigue' by Michael Hughes
California author Michael Hughes knows his home state well – up and down the coast of California he has found seed for stories that range form San Francisco to Riverside with stop offs in the Los Angeles zone. He knows the territory and the inherent intrigue and writes about this state with insight and gusto.
With an easy to read conversational style Michael is able to draw his audience into his world with ease and one corralled, the reader is committed to his story to the last page. An example – ‘October 2006; “Come on, Tyler, time to get up.” The slowly-shifting bundle under the sheets of the bed in the top right corner of the house contorted ever so slightly. “Uh, what time is it?” “It’s eight thirty,” said David Conway. “We gotta go.” “All right.” David walked down the hall and waited for his son to emerge, which Tyler eventually did after some fifteen minutes or so. “It’s so early,” mumbled the son. “I know, but you said you wanted to go to this thing, and unfortunately it’s a bit of a drive out there. You can sleep in the car.” David and Tyler walked through the entryway of their house in the physically and financially elevated Canyon Crest section of Riverside, California to find that a fall dew had obscured the windows of their five-year-old Mercedes E320. “Tyler, just sit in the car, I’ll get the cloth from the trunk and wipe down the windows and all.” Tyler took his place in the front passenger seat of the Benz and closed his eyes as he realized that he would probably have difficulty falling asleep given the monkey suit he was wearing. David threw the cloth that he had just used to clean the windows and windshield back into the trunk and proceeded to twist the key in the ignition. The V6 shuddered for just a moment before it began to thrum in the chilly fifty-degree atmosphere as the sedan it powered descended the mile or so of winding subdivision roads that led to a bigger road that in turn led to the Riverside Freeway. Unable to convince his body to cede consciousness, Tyler decided to strike up a conversation with his father. “Sounds like a real ugly accident,” he said. “I hope this is a closed casket thing.” “Oh, I’m sure it is.” “What exactly happened, do we know?” “Well, Bill was apparently going about 120 out in West LA on the freeway, and he lost control of his car and hit the center divider right on the north end of the Sepulveda Pass.” “Where is that, exactly?”
The plot is outlined for us – ‘Tyler Conway, a student at the University of Southern California, has yet to line up work for the summer before his senior year. At the suggestion of a family friend, Tyler begins interning for Kevin Maxley, a former city councilman turned real estate developer running as a moderate Republican in a swing district in the Inland Empire. Running against Maxley is Dick Mullhill, a Democrat and former banker backed by the Democratic Party establishment. As Tyler learns all of the ropes of campaign life, he comes across conspiracy theory-prone voters, a congressman’s zealously flirtatious sister, and a group of hard-partying college Republicans. Tyler soon learns of rumors of misbehavior and corruption in both campaigns, and that the car accident death of a former coworker of his father’s may not have been all that it seemed. As election night 2012 rolls around, Tyler figures it all out, for better or worse.’
A novel that entertains while examining both sides of the now very emphatic political arena and a fine story – no matter our political affiliation. Grady Harp, October 18
Editor's note: This review has been published with the permission of Grady Harp. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.