by Joseph S. Nicholas

PublishAmerica, $25.95, 392 pages

Northern Deception is a modern mystery novel set in the fictionalized town of Century, Montana. Century finds itself the center of attention during the state governor’s race, with one of its local (and ethically lacking) native sons running for office. With the help of a former spy, Jamison Handley has the new electronic voting machines hacked to guarantee his election and put him in the state capitol. During the same election, the local sheriff’s race is also an upset, with the Century citizens electing young patrol officer John Bingham, over the incumbent toady to the Century mayor, Stan Workman. This election was also a personal victory for John, as Stan Workman had beaten John’s father previously for the position.

The action starts after the election, as John finds himself in a much more complicated and dangerous position as sheriff than had ever been in Century’s previous history.  A cold missing person case becomes much more active, the fixed election starts to unravel, and the players behind it are trying hard to keep it together.

The local politics of the county and the nearby reservation both provide an extra layer of stress and complexity to the situation. Nicholas does an excellent job creating the sense of community and personalities and the depth of conflicting agendas between them all. And while the city of Century might be fictional, the Blue Hills of Montana, where it was set, are real enough and provide some colorful background to the setting.

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