The Last Act: A Novel. Brad Parks. Penguin Publishing Group. March 2019; pb, 384 pp.; ISBN: 9781524743536.
Tommy Jump is a relatively unknown actor out of acts, having nothing to look forward to and in low financial straits. One of his friends invites him to consider what most would view as an unlikely scenario. It’s one that invites fine acting since it could otherwise wind up with the actor under attack or even dead. With healthy skepticism, Tommy meets with Fed agents and hears a real proposal that raises Tommy’s hackles but also intrigues him.
Imagine Mitchell Dupree is a prisoner who has been convicted of four years’ worth of money laundering for a drug cartel, New Colima, led by a vicious criminal El Vio. Mitchell still has not surrendered the information about documents in his possession that could lead to the arrest of the entire cartel and its head. Tommy’s job would be to become a prisoner and ferret out where the missing documents are being hid. The only thing the Feds don’t tell Tommy is that El Vio is trying, via a cartel Director of Security called Herrera, are relentlessly trying as hard as FBI agents to discover this missing information.
Tommy would get $75,000 just for going in and a total of $150,000 when the job is finished. This is an amazing opportunity especially as his fiancé Amanda is pregnant. Tommy’s no fool and realizes how dangerous this act could be but really has no idea of just how much a life and death scenario this could quickly become! Still, he says, “Yes.”
Entering prison under an assumed alias, Tommy spends quite a bit of time adapting to prison life and its resident prisoners. For the most part, it’s a tedious lifestyle, with information about how to obtain whatever one wants by creating a money scam around “cans” or mackerel packets to purchase contraband.
Eventually Tommy meets the object of his search, Mitchell, and winds up becoming trusted and hearing a phenomenal, unexpected story behind his capture. For a while, it’s hard to know who is legit and who’s a fraud. Read the rest of the wild ride story to find out how it will or won’t be resolved.
Brad Parks is a pro at crafting a great plot, knowing when to push up the tension and clues and keeping the reader glued to the exciting pages once the challenges get hot and hotter. This novel will make the reader read more Brad Parks novels. Terrific read for lovers of the crime fiction genre!