First line: "The muzzle of the gun is everything."
Jon Cantrell and his significant other Piper are private military contractors, but instead of working off in a war-torn corner of the world, they are DEA agents covering the drug trade in Texas.
Jon's father is in need of a medical procedure and in order to be able to pay for it, Jon will have to score a big commission job. However, that big commission job leaves Jon and Piper with an unexpected third wheel, a government witness against one of the most powerful drug cartels. The witness also happens to be the only person who can clear Jon and Piper of murder charges.
Everyone wants the government witness: the cartel wants her dead, her crooked DEA agent boyfriend wants her rescued and swept out of the country, and the state's attorney wants her safe in Marfa, Texas to testify. Jon has to play a deadly game of keep-away if he's going to cross the state and deliver the witness safely.
The Contractors weighs in at a hefty 510 pages but does a decent job of keeping the momentum in overdrive for the duration. While it doesn't necessarily have the level of humor that a traditional caper novel has, the novel does have a similar feel to that format: constantly on the run and a fiasco at every turn. The Contractors has it's own flavor of humor, tending toward sarcasm. Small gems pop up throughout that are laugh out loud funny.
Jon Cantrell is well-written as an empathetic character. He's a disgraced cop, run out of the force when he tried to do the right thing amid crooked politics. His family defines dysfunction but he genuinely cares and does what he can for them, despite the effects it has on him personally.
Likewise, Piper is character readers can connect with. Wrapped in a hard shell that the life of hard knocks has provided her, she has a big heart beating within. Her need to "sponsor/adopt" poor children is a fun twist to her character, and makes her heartache believable and authentic.
Hunsicker's supporting cast in this novel does its job well. The range of persona from U.S. Senator to abused preacher's daughter keeps the story lively, interesting and unpredictable. As each contributes his/her part to the events of the plot, an overall richness is added.
The Contractors is a fun adventure but it's also timely and weighty. Amid the action are issues of corruption in the government contractor system; corruption that means far more than excessive spending. The book deals with drug, immigration and abuse issues as well. Hunsicker isn't standing on a soapbox with this book, he's merely using these current hot buttons around which to build his story.
Well worth the investment of time, I also enjoyed escaping the frigid Northern temps for the hot action in Texas. The Contractors (ISBN: 978-1477808726) is available from Thomas & Mercer in paperback. It's also available as an unabridged audio (ISBN: 978-1480557437), narrated by Luke Daniels, from Brilliance Audio.
My review kicks off the TLC Book Tour for The Contractors. Wednesday you can Patricia's take on the novel. Check out the full tour schedule here.
Disclosure: I do some contractual work for one of the owners of TLC Blog Tours. My work does not involve this tour or any other tour I would agree to be a part of here at the blog. Nor does my work with them obligate me to a specific kind of review. The reviews are still my own opinions and reflect only my thoughts on the novels. If you care to read more, you can find more information on my Disclosure page.