Sam Callahan, Book 1
By: Chad Zunker
Narrated by: Noah Berman
Series: Sam Callahan, Book 1
Length: 9 hrs and 12 mins
Release date: 02-14-17
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
Genre: Political Thriller, Suspense
My Rating: 4.0 of 5.0 Overall; Story 4.0; Narration 4.0.
Trust no one. Sam Callahan learned this lesson from a childhood spent in abusive foster care, on the streets, and locked in juvie. With the past behind him and his future staked on law school, he is moonlighting as a political tracker, paid to hide in crowds and shadow candidates, recording their missteps for use by their opponents. One night, after an anonymous text tip, Sam witnesses a congressional candidate and a mysterious blonde in a motel indiscretion that ends in murder, recording it all on his phone.
Now Sam is a target. Set up to take the fall and pursued by both assassins and the FBI, he is forced to go on the run. Using the street skills forged during his troubled youth - as well as his heightened mental abilities - Sam goes underground until he can uncover who is behind the conspiracy and how far up it goes. A taut thriller with an unforgettable young hero, The Tracker is a heart-stopping debut from an exciting new voice.
Revised edition: This edition of The Tracker includes editorial revisions.
©2017 Chad Zunker (P)2016 Brilliance Audio, all rights reserved.
Sam Callahan was delivered to a hospital on a freezing night on his first birthday. He spent 15 troubled years in the foster care system suffering various degrees of abuse. He gets caught in a crime as a 15-year-old and spends some months in the juvenile system. Finally, he gets a helping hand which gets him back on the right track. At age 24, Sam is on his way to earning a law degree.
To earn money while in school, Sam works as a political “tracker”, a person who quietly follows a candidate to capture and report all actions. The information is fed each night to the tracker bosses who examine the material for negative kernels. Sam is winding down one night when he gets a text that tells him to go to a particular location at a specific time. Sam doesn’t know who sent the text but he shows up and witnesses his candidate subject with a woman who is not his wife. As he watches and records from the dark, a murder occurs. Sam races to hide in a hotel room contacting his superior to report the information.
When his boss finally arrives, he takes Sam’s phone and sends the video to a website other than the usual reporting site. Before they can determine what to do next the man is shot through the window. Sam is on the run using his hard-won street skills to barely stay ahead of the men trying to kill him. He can trust no one, not even the FBI when they begin to search for him after a third man is found dead!
This is a story that is tense and suspenseful from beginning to end. The author tells the story in first person, with background chapters, explaining Sam’s childhood and youth, in between the intense scenes. These show his struggles, his serious relationship and even his reactions upon finding his birth mother. I found this writing format to work well even though I was often ready to know the next steps that fugitive Sam would take. Fortunately, Sam has some friends to call upon who have skills to help. One is a whiz computer hacker and another is a respected legal professor. The most important person who Sam seeks to help him, is his former girl friend who is a brilliant and determined reporter.
I liked the intensity of the suspense but felt there were some gaps in reality. I couldn’t quite figure out how cash-strapped Sam kept coming up with funds along his journey. Also, it was a stretch that Sam went to certain locations and wasn’t caught there by the assassins or authorities. On the other hand, he had the help of a mysterious interloper and the whole story takes place in less than three days.
I liked Sam as a character trying to make a good life after an awful childhood. The mystery was different and interesting. I expect I will pick up the next two books. I recommend this to readers who enjoy a good murder thriller.
Audio Notes: Noah Berman does a good job with the narration. He gives the characters distinct voices and shares the story with strong energy. The narration help me stay immersed in the story and I recommend the audio version.