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Alan Cook, Mystery and walking writer
Winner of 2009 Silver Quill award from the American Authors Association and named best Pacific West book by Reader Views.
Drake and Melody are one of 10 teams entered in a race along the coast of California for a prize of a million dollars--in 1969 during the Cold War.
But is the Cold War about to heat up?
Watch the video trailer here: PreView Run Into Trouble 01_20_09A.wmv
Winner of 2009 Silver Quill award from the American Authors Association.
Drake and Melody are teamed up to run a race along the California Coast for a prize of a million dollars—in 1969 when a million is worth something. Neither knows the other is in the race before it starts. They once did undercover work together in England, but this information is supposed to be top secret.
The race sponsor, Giganticorp, is a large and very profitable government military contractor, whose ambitious CEO, Casey Messinger, is connected to the powerful in Washington, which must give him access to classified information.
The nine other pairs of runners entered in the race are world-class marathoners, including a winner of the Boston Marathon. If this competition isn’t enough, somebody tries to knock Drake out of the race before it begins. But Drake and Melody also receive threats calculated to keep them from dropping out. What’s going on?
The stakes increase when startling events produce fatalities and impact the race, leading them to ask whether the Cold War with the USSR is about to heat up. If so, is it safer to line up with the hawks or the doves—because a wrong choice may mean giving up valuable freedom for questionable security.
With their previous training and their own contacts in Washington, Drake and Melody are in the best position to figure out whether various events are connected and who is behind them.
Their other challenge is to keep themselves in good physical condition to be able to compete for the prize money while running through the spectacular scenery of the California coast from the Mexican border to San Francisco.
The taxi driver suddenly swore, causing Drake to snap out of his reverie. He glanced at the back of the head in front of him. The man appeared to be looking in the rearview mirror.
Drake spun around in the backseat, and an identical expletive escaped his lips. A truck was overtaking them at a high rate of speed. It couldn’t pass them on the narrow road without crossing into the opposing lane of traffic, and the driver apparently had no intention of doing that.
“Step on it.”
Drake’s order came too late. He instinctively ducked his head an instant before the collision, which drove his face into the thinly padded seat back. The noise sounded like an exploding bomb, and he thought he was back in the army.
Then all was silent. Drake wondered whether he was dead, as he always did after a similar occurrence. He heard a noise. The engine of the truck was revving. He raised his head in time to see the truck backing up. Was the driver planning to hit them again?
Probably not. He would have to drive into the field where the taxi had landed after being momentarily airborne. The truck swerved onto a side road. It skidded to a stop and then lurched forward, accelerating back toward Interstate 5.
The rear end of the taxi had telescoped, and Drake realized that a few more inches and he would have telescoped along with it. Through the broken rear window he saw liquid spilling out of what had once been the gas tank. Gasoline. He had to get out of here.
He heard a moan. He realized for the first time that the driver was lying in the backseat beside him. His seat back had broken during the collision.
“Are you all right?”
An answering moan told him that he would have to get them both out. Drake shoved at the mangled door beside the driver, not bothering to look for the door handle, which was surely non-functional. The door was jammed. He tried the door on the other side with equal lack of success. He reached across the driver into the front seat and found the handle on the driver’s side door. Although that door didn’t look as bad, it didn’t respond to his pressure.
The easiest way out was through the rear window; the glass was already broken. Drake knocked out several loose pieces of glass that were still clinging to the window frame. He grabbed the shoulders of the driver who was lying on his back, his body partially on the errant seat back, and tried to lift him. He was greeted with a full-fledged groan.
No time to be gentle. Drake hefted the driver up, ignoring louder groans, and shoved him head first through the window. He stopped for a second to collect his energy and realized he was panting. With a supreme effort, he pushed the body after the head. The driver rolled off what was left of the trunk and hit the ground with a thump.
That had used most of Drake’s strength, but he had to get himself out. He forced his muscles to move. He got his head and shoulders through the opening and became stuck. He couldn’t go any farther. It would be easier to stay here and let things take their course. Which would involve him burning up in a fiery inferno, like the suttee he had seen in India.
You candy ass, he told himself. You’ve gotten yourself out of worse jams than this. Just not recently. You’re out of practice. Do this one thing and you can rest. He wiggled his body slowly through the opening, but when most of it was through, he didn’t have strength enough to stop himself from rolling off the remains of the trunk, just as the driver had done.
He felt pain for the first time as his chest landed on a rock. But he was finished. No, not quite. They weren’t safe yet. He smelled gasoline. He struggled to his feet and grunted as he lifted the driver under his arms near the shoulders, dragging him away from the car into the dirt of the field, which, fortunately, had nothing planted in it at the moment.
He stumbled backward, slowly, the earth and the legs and butt of the driver creating friction, noticing the sweat rolling down his face, his lungs feeling as if they would collapse. How far did they have to go?
A fireball whooshed into the air in all directions; Drake felt the heat from it, even though they were now a safe distance away. He dropped the driver and hit the ground himself, watching in awe as the car was consumed by angry red flames. He hadn’t seen a fire this spectacular in a long time.
How was the driver? Drake sat up and looked at him. His eyes were open.
“How do you feel?”
“My neck hurts.”
Whiplash. He also had some cuts from the broken glass. Drake took out a handkerchief and wiped them off, but they weren’t bleeding badly. If those were the extent of his injuries, he was lucky. He noticed the driver staring up at him.
“You’re bleeding, man.”
Drake put his hand to his face, and his fingers felt the red liquid gushing out of his nose. He had been unconsciously licking it off his lips. He pressed the handkerchief against his nostrils to stanch the flow and jumped as pain radiated through his head. His nose was broken.
What else? He needed to take inventory. In addition to the cuts he had suffered from the broken glass, his back hurt. Of course. His body had been twisted when the collision occurred.
He became aware of a car heading toward the still burning taxi, traveling at high speed, coming from the direction of the beach. It must be associated with the race he was supposed to be entering. The car stopped fast, not far from the taxi, and two men jumped out. They got as close to the fire as they could and appeared to be looking for something.
Signs of life, Drake thought grimly. Well, don’t keep them in suspense. He laboriously stood up and waved his hand. They still didn’t see him. “Over here.” Shouting made his head hurt.
Dawn Dowdle, Mystery Lovers Corner
Oliver Drake and Melody Jefferson are paired up as a team in the race Running California. It begins near the Mexican border and continues up the California coast. Strange they would be paired together since they were spies together in Europe. No one should know. Do they?
Giganticorp, a California company providing weapons to the military, is sponsoring the run. Casey Messinger, CEO has high aspirations for himself as well as Giganticorp. Is there anything that can stop this race?
I really like books by this author. This is another great one. The characters are interesting, and the plot is well laid out. There are plenty of red herrings and twists to keep the reader guessing. The scenery of this book is great as well. I often felt like I was out there running with them.
I highly recommend this book.
The year is 1969, the Vietnam War is in full blast and a large, privately held California defense contractor offers a million-dollar prize to a group of runners to traverse the state from the Mexican border to San Francisco. Among the runners are Drake and Melody, paired as a team. They, many years before, had worked as some kind of government agents in England.
Along the 500-mile route, we are treated not only to a scenic description of the California coast, but to a series of incidents of an increasingly violent nature.
At the beginning, there is an accident caused by a pickup truck banging into the cab in which Drake is riding to the starting point of the race, severely injuring him to the point that he can hardly run. But perseverance and ingenuity prevail, and Drake and Melody continue running up the coast and discovering more events affecting the race, prompting the pair to apply their past training to try to figure out what is happening.
Who would ever have thought that a race featuring a marathon distance every day could provide the basis for the kind of intrigue included throughout the plot, which combines a Cold War setting and subversive conspiracy? Not to mention the various tricks inherent in running a foot race. Somehow, it all comes together in a good read, one which is recommended.
Oliver Drake has agreed to join the race Running California and if he wins, he will win a million dollars. Giganticorp, a large corporation with many government contracts, is the sponsor of the race and recruited Drake to participate.
Drake’s first hint that all was not as it should be was when the cab taking him to the starting point of the race was run off the rode on purpose. Drake and the driver were lucky to survive the crash. When Drake finally arrives at his destination, he is surprised to find that his partner for the race is Melody Jefferson, a friend and a person that he had worked undercover with in the past.
Melody is currently living in Denver, Colorado and working for a fitness center. Melody is the only woman in the race. Drake is a veteran of the Korean War and is currently selling real estate. It would seem that Melody has been picked for the race because she is a woman. Drake has been picked because of his history as a veteran. The fact that Drake’s father is an Admiral may have had some bearing on the decision to make Drake a part of the race.
Soon Drake and Melody begin to have suspicions about the race and its true purpose. Next, a series of threatening letters arrive at the hotel and the letter suggests that if Drake and Melody drop out of the race it will place Melody’s mother in danger. Drake contacts Blade, a person he used to work with while doing undercover assignments. Blade agrees to help him try to find out who is sending the letters.
Drake and Melody soon discover that Casey Messinger, the head of Giganticorp, has his eye on a political office. It seems that the race is to help further his political career.
As the two race up the coast of California they find that the race is claiming victims and the outcome could even be a threat to the welfare of the whole country. Can Drake and Melody discover the identity of the person or persons behind the incidents before it is too late? Pick up a copy of Run Into Trouble and be a participant in the race up the California coast.
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