Author: Rick Pullen

Publisher: Blair House

ISBN: 9780999491003

Rick Pullen's fast-paced thriller, The Apprentice unfolds with the election of Holly Crofton as President of the USA. Unfortunately, Crofton hardly has a chance to be sworn into office when she is assassinated. Her running mate, Derrick Templeton steps into her shoes and becomes President. Incidentally, any similarity between Templeton and Donald Trump doesn't appear to be coincidental, which makes for some interesting comparisons.

At the scene of the assassination is a very young rookie reporter from the Post-Examiner, Tish Woodward who happens to be at the right place and the right time. Her original assignment had been to temporary back up veteran journalist, Stobe Houghton in covering Templeton.

According to Woodward's report to her newspaper, Crofton was shot by a camera or a cameraman in the back of the ballroom where she was about to make her acceptance speech.

Woodward also emails to her editor a photo that shows the suspicious video camera that the FBI were looking at and she informs her editor that she heard an explosion before Crofton being shot. No doubt, for a twenty-four-year-old rookie reporter, who never worked with a National Desk, this is a big scoop and will surely make her superiors take notice of her journalistic acumen.

Woodward's boyfriend, Tom, who is an independent videographer, was likewise close to the scene of the assassination and had managed to take a video of the gruesome scene where Crofton is shown shot in the head. Tom agrees to permit Woodward to pass on the video to her employer, and she reassures him that full credit will be given to him.

Tom and Tish are visited by two men claiming to be FBI agents, and Tom agrees to give them a thumb drive containing a second copy of his video. He has no idea why they wanted the video and only later on in the narrative that he and Tish discover that the agents were imposters.

Tish digs further into Crofton's killing and comes in contact with an important organizer of the presidential campaign, Jim Grant, who was on the team that interviewed Templeton for the vice presidency. Grant informs her that he believes Templeton is unfit to be President and that he is going senile. As he is not a psychologist, he engaged someone who is a psychiatrist from Idaho who agreed to be inserted into the campaign as a speechwriter for Templeton so she could closely observe his behavior. After receiving this pertinent information, Tish begins to question the information she receives from Grant and begins to wonder if she is being set up, and if she did write a story about Templeton's unfitness, what then? Who would become the next president? Or would Templeton remain in office?

The real magic at play here is Pullen's gift for well-paced, well-blocked flurries of suspense as well as creating a heroine that is a memorable and who is all the more attractive for being wide-eyed when compared to more seasoned investigative journalists. Also, Pullen knows how to cast a spell that makes us as eager as his heroine to uncover the truth.