cover image The Rented Mule

The Rented Mule

Bobby Cole. Amazon/Thomas & Mercer, $14.95 trade paper (508p) ISBN 978-1-4778-0860-3

Cole (The Dummy Line) overcomplicates this thriller’s essentially straightforward plot, about a businessman under pressure in the South, and populates his cast with too many unnecessary, unconvincing characters. Cooper Dixon, minority owner of Tower Advertising Agency in Montgomery, Ala., is trapped in a troubled marriage with his spoiled wife, Kelly, and contemplating an affair with divorced graphic artist Brooke Layton. Majority owner Gates Ballenger, struggling with drug and gambling problems, needs to sell the agency to take care of his debts with bookie Mitchell Holmes, and is feverishly pushing a deal with a local bank. A mysterious figure known only as “the Client” hires a trio of criminals to kidnap Kelly and plant evidence that will make Cooper look guilty in order to destroy him. A tighter focus on Cooper’s plight could have helped this story unfold in a more satisfying manner. Agent: Kyle Jennings, Bad Dog Management. (Jan.)