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Reviewed by Caleb Shadis

The Contractors is a futuristic ‘what if’ scenario that could very well come true if the U.S. government decides to start contracting out the majority of its law enforcement jobs, DEA, FBI, etc. It is a pretty scary look at what could go wrong should the government decide to go with the lowest bidders and crime prevention becomes dependent on the bounty. Or even worse, the crimes pay better than the bounties.

Jon Cantrell is a DEA agent, or mostly one. He works for a contracting agency to the DEA. His badge is real, his authority is real. However, he gets paid on commision. The big commissions come from big busts, and the biggest are drugs. Getting a percent of the value of a large shipment of cocaine can be a year’s salary or better. Some agents double the take home pay by working on both sides of the fence. Each contractor bids on and gets a region to work in. Given how ‘well’ the U.S. agencies cooperate right now, imagine what would happen if each agency was broken up and given to private companies that are competing? There would be a lot more people to impede the flow of information in order to better position themselves.

Jon and his partner, Piper, work and live together and share their ups and downs. Both are broken people just trying to get by. When the legitimate jobs (busting bad guys for the DEA) are scarce, they occasionally take on the not so legitimate jobs. We meet them both on one of these. The job they accepted was to find a girl, a man’s niece, who was being detained in a brothel and bring her back. They don’t really care about the brothel, nor the other girls/women who are there, only the one they agreed to retrieve, and they aren’t afraid to use a little violence to smooth the way.

Jon and Piper also have a line on a very large shipment of illegal drugs coming in and their cut would be large enough to fix many of their current financial problems for at least a couple of years. Little do they know that they are pawns in a much larger and more dangerous game. A game that reaches to the top. When they find the drugs, they also find a kidnapped woman and this woman is more important to everyone than the drugs. After securing the area the first people to show up are a couple more drug thugs, closely followed by some dirty DEA contractors. Things for Jon and Piper just continue to go downhill from there. Now lots of people want Jon, Piper and the witness dead.

Overall, it was a very fast-paced book with non-stop action. The characters were fairly believable (other than the witness) and the story line was pretty good, for someone looking for a Die Hard kind of action. It certainly kept my attention and I flew right through the book–it almost got 4 star rating from me. However, after thinking about different aspects of the plot, I bumped half a star off. There were just a few too many plot holes that bothered me as I was reading.

Rating: ★★★½☆ 

Caleb is a software engineer and amateur woodworker living in southern Minnesota. He has more hobbies than he has time or money for, and enjoys his quiet time reading.

Review and giveaway copies were provided free of any obligation by Thomas & Mercer. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.

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