Thursday, November 01, 2007

Pg. 69: Mark Coggins' "Runoff"

The current feature at the Page 69 Test: Mark Coggins' Runoff.

About the book, from the author's website:
“How much does it cost to fix an election?”

August Riordan — private investigator, jazz bass player, smart ass with a foolish heart — is going to find out. He’s been hired by Leonora Lee, the all-powerful “Dragon Lady” of San Francisco’s Chinatown, to investigate the results of the city’s recent mayoral election. It seems the Dragon Lady’s candidate failed to even carry the Chinese precincts, and she’s convinced that someone must have rigged the outcome by hacking the city’s newly installed touch-screen voting machines.

A runoff between the two remaining candidates is days away, but it takes Riordan mere hours to find the Director of Elections dead in his office. A visit to the offices of Columbia Voting Systems — the suppliers of the city’s touch-screen machines — results in another corpse. A wide range of political interests share a stake in the election, so Riordan’s got plenty of suspects.

But when the Dragon Lady’s beautiful daughter is attacked after giving Riordan a goodnight kiss, it starts to get personal. Soon, Riordan is in a race not only against the runoff deadline, but against powerful political movers and shakers, Chinatown gang members, and crazed anarchists, with only his techno-savvy, cross-dressing friend Chris to help.

Apparently, the cost of fixing an election runs to as many lives as it does dollars, and if Riordan isn't careful, the price for un-fixing it may be more than he can afford …

Among the early praise for Runoff:

"Runoff by Mark Coggins is a smart, funny, spooky ... often touching, always entertaining romp through ... San Francisco's highways, byways, and alleys of corruption. (Hammett eat your hat and laugh.) It's great fun and a must read."
James Crumley, Dashiell Hammett award-winning author of The Last Good Kiss and The Right Madness

"[H]arrowing ... exposes the dark underbelly of American politics."
Publishers Weekly

"[D]eliciously quirky ... panache to spare."
Kirkus Reviews

"Runoff is at once a biting, witty, very timely commentary on our flawed electoral system, and a fast-paced page turner you won't be able to put down. Mark Coggins has written the must-read PI novel of the year."
Jason Starr, author of The Follower

"What could be better than a fun fiction about the real dangers of electronic voting? Coggins shows us that elections can be hacked and the cover-up can be murder."
Ellen Theisen and John Gideon, Co-Directors, VotersUnite.Org

"Classic noir, brought bang up to date. August Riordan is a hero with a heart. You're with him every inch of the way as he stalks the mean streets of San Francisco's Chinatown, confronting crooked pols, anarchist squatters, psychopathic software engineers, and cleaver-wielding gangsters, with betrayal lurking around every corner. A wild ride."
Peter Tasker, author of Samurai Boogie and Buddha Kiss

"Great PI novels are as hard to come by as honest elections, but Mark Coggins’ Runoff comes through in spades — Sam Spades, that is."
Craig Johnson, author of Kindness Goes Unpunished and Death without Company

"Street savvy and wit make August Riordan an appealing gumshoe in the San Francisco tradition. Runoff has my vote."
Twist Phelan, author of False Fortune and Spurred Ambition

Read an excerpt from Runoff and learn more about the novel at Coggins' website and his blog, Riordan's Desk.

Previous novels in the August Riordan mystery series include Immortal Game, Vulture Capital, and Candy from Strangers.

Curious about who Hollywood would cast to play August Riordan in a film adaptation? So was I.

The Page 69 Test: Runoff.

--Marshal Zeringue