BOOK NOOK: An election year thriller to distract us from the real election year

Thirty years ago, I read my first thriller. I got immediately hooked on crime novels, mysteries, and page turning thrillers. I have read thousands-we have reached the midway point in 2024 and I am prepared to declare this year is my best one for thrillers yet.

I just finished another dazzling title. “Hunted” by Abir Mukherjee has it all, The story takes place during the week before a presidential election. The author doesn’t state the year but it feels like this year although the two main presidential candidates are clearly fictional. There’s one candidate who seems a lot like Donald Trump. The other candidate is a sitting vice-president, a woman, perhaps like Kamala Harris?

One could speculate Mukerjee, who grew up in Scotland, imagined an incumbent president would not be running for reelection? I guarantee Joe Biden won’t be reading this book anytime soon. Perhaps he should?

So it is right before the election when a suicide bomber, a young woman, arrives at a shopping mall in Los Angeles and blows herself up. There are enormous casualties-a group with a name that makes them sound like they are Islamic terrorists takes credit for the massacre.

An FBI agent named Shreya rushes to the mall to try to gather evidence. Shreya is of South Asian descent and she really wants to figure out who was behind this act. The timing of it, right before the election, might represent an attempt by some shadowy group to manipulate the outcome.

Shreya maintains a tense relationship with Dan, her boss. Throughout the story Shreya constantly defies Dan’s orders. The FBI has sealed off the mall, the bombing caused structural damage, nobody is being allowed to enter. Shreya goes in anyway because she wants to view the security camera footage to see if she can spot any potential bombers to identify them.

Across the ocean in London a South Asian named Sajid discovers his daughter Aliyah hasn’t really flown to Japan. She lied, going to Portland instead-could she be involved with this terrorist group? Following the bombing the Trump-like character begins demanding reinstatement of a ban on Muslims.

I’m being careful not to spoil this story for readers. We obtain several points of view, one of the most compelling being that of Greg. He’s a demolition expert in rural Oregon where he’s making bombs for the terrorists. He’s a military veteran who was badly wounded in Afghanistan.

And yes indeed Aliyah is there with him in Oregon. The terrorist group functions in cult-like fashion. Greg has fallen in love with Aliyah. Things are complicated. The leader of the group, a sinister woman named Miriam, is all about control. Greg isn’t supposed to know what is really happening with his bombs.

The terrorists have superior intel, seeming to know more about what is happening than the FBI or anybody else. Incredible ending! That’s sufficient. Read this one. His pacing is incredible. The story is fantastic. It’s a thrill a minute. I loved it.

Vick Mickunas of Yellow Springs interviews authors every Saturday at 7 a.m. and on Sundays at 10:30 a.m. on WYSO-FM (91.3). For more information, visit Contact him at

Credit: Contributed

Credit: Contributed

About the Author