The Candidate is the second book in the Newsmaker series by Lis Wiehl. This suspense/thriller novel was published by Thomas Nelson in 2016.
Blurb for THE CANDIDATE
How far would a candidate go to become President of the United States?
In covering the presidential election campaign, star newsmaker Erica Sparks notices that favored candidate Senator Mike Ortiz seems dependent on his wife to an unnatural degree. Celeste Ortiz is a brilliant and glamorous billionaire who—along with her best friend and confidant Lily Lau—has engineered her husband’s meteoric rise. The White House is within their reach. But the more Erica investigates the Ortizes’ strange relationship, the more intrigued she becomes.
Erica begins an investigation. But everyone material to her probe ends up dead. With each death, her foreboding grows. Is she next? And can she find out in time if the country’s beloved candidate is what he seems . . . or a threat to national security?
Jen’s Review of THE CANDIDATE
*I originally reviewed this book on Books That Hook. I received a free copy for review consideration.
Quick Review: A great book for people who love mysteries or suspense stories.
The Candidate can be read as a standalone novel.
- Point of view: third person
- Tense: present
- Setting: multiple locations
- Pet Peeves: none
- Sexual Content: none
About the plot
News reporter Erica Sparks witnesses an explosion that kills one of the candidates for the presidential election, along with innocent bystanders. Something about her encounter with the other candidate, Mike Ortiz, and his wife Celeste strikes her as strange. She becomes determined to figure out what is going on with them. The power dynamic between them seems wrong.
Meanwhile, Erica tries to deal with her eleven year old daughter, who feels neglected because of Erica’s job. Erica must also try to figure out her long distance relationship with her fiance.
I thought all of the plot points fit together nicely. The subplots were not all directly related to the main story line, but contributed to characterization.
I noticed one inconsistency that affected my understanding and appreciation of the plot development. Before Erica embarks on a dangerous mission, she says she is emailing three people to let them know where she went in case things go wrong. Later, when she is missing, no one knows where she is. If she sent the emails, it would have been sufficient evidence for law enforcement to get a warrant to search every nook and cranny. That isn’t the case; the FBI state that people are concerned about what she had been investigating, and GPS showed she had been in the area. They never mention the emails. Also, it doesn’t seem that the FBI tried very hard to look for her there. In fact, the reader has no idea of the outcome of their visit, only that they were there.
About the pace and suspense
Lis Wiehl did an excellent job of hooking me into the story. I believe this is partly because of how well she developed each character. Celeste and Lily were horrible, ruthless, and power-crazed. The sheer evil represented by Lily Lau made me shiver. At first, I thought Celeste was about as low as a human could get. I was wrong. Lily was worse, a complete psychopath and master manipulator.
Something happens on every page of the book. There aren’t any dull moments, even when Erica is dealing with personal matters. I always wanted to keep reading. The book moves along very quickly, and it was very difficult for me to put it down.
I thought Wiehl did an incredible job of making me suspicious of everyone that Erica encountered. She included some surprises, some I saw coming and some I didn’t.
About the main character
Erica Sparks is brave and determined to do the right thing. She’s a bit of a damaged heroine because she is a recovering alcoholic who only recently was granted custody of her daughter. She feels she has a lot to make up for and feels like she is failing at doing so. Her relationship with her mother is also an issue.
I really liked Erica. Lis Wiehl put a lot of thought into making her a dynamic character with different aspects to her personality.
My only complaint is that she seemed too quick to trust people, especially in the first half of the book. It was hard for me to believe that she was a successful investigator when she took people’s word for things as much as she did. Thankfully, as the story went on, she showcased her investigative skills and questioned people’s motives and truthfulness more.
Erica says she hates cynicism, but I felt that was naive. Just because someone is cynical doesn’t mean they are wrong. I believe Erica Sparks could have benefited from some cynicism.
About style, prose, and other elements
Overall, I thought THE CANDIDATE was very well-written. Despite my copy being an ARC, I didn’t notice any grammatical or spelling errors. Also, the author knew how to write sentences that conveyed the necessary information in a way that seemed descriptive without being overly wordy.
Although I am biased against present tense, it worked for THE CANDIDATE. I didn’t notice it much. The only note I made about the tense was that it didn’t make sense to me to have a prologue written in present tense, when it presumable takes place before the events in chapter one.
Do I Recommend?
THE CANDIDATE is a must-read! It’s a fast-paced thrill ride with interesting, three dimensional characters. If you like political thrillers, you should definitely check this one out.
Lis Wiehl hooked me completely. I will probably go back and read the first book in the Newsmakers series, while I apatiently awaiting the next Erica Sparks book.
My rating: I give THE CANDIDATE five stars (an A)!