cover image The Voter File

The Voter File

David Pepper. Putnam, $27 (432p) ISBN 978-0-593-08393-2

Pepper’s timely third novel featuring reporter Jack Sharpe (after 2018’s The Wingman) finds Sharpe, recently let go from his network TV job, drawn into freelancing by the surprising results in an obscure Wisconsin judicial election, where a heavily favored incumbent inexplicably lost to a neophyte. A low-level staffer who worked for the winning candidate explains to Sharpe that someone must have hacked the incumbent’s voter file, a treasure trove of semi-private and sometimes confidential information that both Democrats and Republicans keep on their registrants. Sharpe, a burned-out but nonetheless savvy journalist, logically wonders: why use such a potent political weapon to influence the result of such an inconsequential race? Sharpe has to fend off a brutal hit man as he gets on the trail of a foreign plot to take over entire segments of the U.S. economy. Never mind that the action spins into the overly dramatic toward the end. Pepper offers a well-researched, gripping look at one of the many perilous wrinkles in the electoral system. Agent: Mitch Hoffman, Aaron M. Priest Literary. (June)