Imagine the Kennedys vs. the Bushes on “Family Feud”, only far more personal and vindictive — even murderous — and your have the basis for THE PINEBOX VENDETTA, Jeff Bond’s fast-paced mashup of political thriller meets collegiate murder mystery.
THE PINEBOX VENDETTA begins like a Robert Ludlum international spy thriller before suddenly (even jarringly) detouring to college reunions and family drama. The novel unfurls over the course of a reunion weekend at Yale University, where presidential hopeful Owen Gallagher appears at a family gala. Rival Rock Pruitt looks to ruin the event and tarnish Owen’s public image for his own political gain. Alumni Samantha Lessing brings her teenage daughter to the reunion hoping to research a documentary about the fabled “pinebox vendetta” feud between the Pruitts and Gallaghers, as well as distance herself from her oppressive husband and crumbling marriage. While investigating the mysterious death (murder?) of Rock Pruitt’s freshman roommate, Sam’s surprised by the return of her college sweetheart, Jamie Gallagher, whom everyone assumed was dead. Nope, turns out Jamie’s an international spy with a secret past. This class reunion is about to get interesting!
Bond deftly weaves his plot around a group of vividly rendered characters. Boorish Rock Pruitt gets manipulated by Yale’s secret Skull and Bones society, while Sam is a relatable hero, struggling to stand up for herself, while teaching her daughter to do the same. Bond’s prose is both lyrical and visceral. (“Yale inhabited New Haven like a bitchy swan inhabits some polluted lagoon.”) He does an outstanding job depicting the elitist circles of politics and academia. Both are ugly, petty, and mean beneath their polished veneers.
Bond shines brightest exposing the underbelly the American political machine. The manufactured candidates, the media spin doctors, the backroom deals — it’s all a crafted, often sickening, public performance. While suspense elements give THE PINEBOX VENDETTA a classic feel, its politics couldn’t be more timely. With a twist on nearly every page, THE PINEBOX VENDETTA is a satisfying suspense thriller that offers Ivy League chills.
Jeff Bond’s lyrical prose, tight pacing, and memorable characters elevate THE PINEBOX VENDETTA, a tale of feuding political families, into a top-tier thriller.
~Rob Errera for IndieReader