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Thursday, December 9, 2010

Grisham fans will enjoy

When No One is Watching by Joseph Hayes
Published by Synergy Books
Paperback, $14.95

Fans of John Grisham's novels should add this novel to their To-Be-Read list: Joseph Hayes' When No One in Watching.

The story begins as Blair Van Howe is driving his friend and colleague, Danny Moran, home after a celebration for a big legal victory. Danny is passed out drunk when Blair hits another car, seriously injuring the other driver.

Van Howe uses Danny's phone to call 911, and moves Danny into the driver's seat, then flees the scene. The next day, he is scheduled to announce his candidacy for the U.S. Congress, and this would derail his career, which would make his wife and her politically powerful father angry.

Danny has no idea what happened; the last thing he remembers is drinking in the hotel bar. He knows he has a problem with alcohol, but he has never gotten behind the wheel of a car after drinking.

The rest of this fast-paced novel follows the ascent of Blair Van Howe, whom everyone thinks is the next Golden Boy of politics, and the descent of Danny Moran, who loses his job, his wife, and for awhile his freedom, after the driver of the other car dies.

After Danny's loyal daughter begs her dad to get help, he becomes involved in Alcoholics Anonymous. The author says that his father, an alcoholic who got sober and devoted his life to helping others, was the inspiration for Danny. He clearly understands the life of an alcoholic, as he describes Danny's life:
"Even after nearly ten years of sobriety, Danny still craved routine in his life, and the flexible job hours enabled him to live that way. He made his to-do lists every day and followed them with uncompromising discipline. He drank his soft drinks and ate his snacks precisely in accordance with his schedule."
Hayes adds a dash of ethics to this interesting political thriller, one that fans of John Grisham's novels will enjoy. There are the requisite bad guys hired by the father-in-law, the gruff cop who-can't-forget-this one-case, and the greedy, power hungry wife, but it is Danny Moran who is the stand-out character.

Danny Moran and his life bring this novel a notch above the usual run-of-the-mill political thriller and Hayes' experience with his dad helped him create the world of alcoholics, with its successes and setbacks.

Rating 3.5 of 5 stars

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