In her first undercover assignment, rookie cop Clare Vengel is tasked to infiltrate a university group that may be responsible for the public deaths of local politicians.
Clare is bold and brash, and convinced that she has what it takes to work undercover. Whether her certainty stems from youthful enthusiasm or naivete, she quickly discovers that it's harder than it looks. A little too concerned with her handler's opinion, rather than improving her rather inept investigative skills, I would have preferred more active competence over edgy attitude to give her credibility as the heroine. It wasn't until I was approaching the last quarter of the book that I felt she really took on the role as the primary protagonist.
However, Spano skilfully employs multiple viewpoints in Dead Politician Society, and these characters and their part in the story were intriguing. Matthew the misogynist professor, Annabel the ambitious reporter, Laura the first victim's ex wife and Jonathon, the lovesick student are all somehow entangled in the murders. Spano presents their perspectives in alternating chapters which allows us to see connections that Clare can't show us. Each of these characters then introduce other players in the mystery creating an everwidening pool of possibilities. It's challenging, initially, to make sense of the web of information and characters but Spano weaves the details together with a skilled hand.
The Canadian political system is similar to ours here in Australia, and that familiarity helped I think though really the political system plays a very small part in the story. Politics are not normally an interest of mine, though I can certainly empathise with the anger and frustration against government representatives that drives the murderer. I thought a university was the perfect setting for the book allowing Spano to juxtapose the idealism of the students with the cynicism of real world political machinations.
While the plot is motivated by uncovering the identity of the murderer, Dead Politician Society is primarily a character driven story. This twist on the traditional mystery format, makes for a complex and intriguing story.
Read an interview with Robin Spano at my blog www.bookdout.wordpress.com