The accidental president is no accident. The investigation that was FBI Agent Imogen Trager’s undoing may be the key to stopping a brutal, false flag terrorist attack meant to tighten a puppet president’s grip on power.
Emergency Powers will delight mystery and thriller fans (“Great for fans of Brad Meltzer, David Baldacci.” –Publishers Weekly) And politics junkies will enjoy the ripped-from-the-headlines urgency. But it’s about more than the headlines. And darker. A story of corruption and redemption, achieved at enormous personal cost, featuring FBI Agent Imogen Trager: “a memorable protagonist—as tough as she is smart.” (Kirkus Review) Indeed, “Three tough female characters steal the show: FBI agents Vega, Sartain, and Trager. Overall, the power dynamics of these women…are something special.” (T. LIEBERMAN, Independent Book Review)
As the story begins, Imogen is haunted—and sidelined—by a case she couldn’t solve. When the president dies in office, she knows that the conspiracy she chased down a blind alley still has life in it—and she needs to get back in the hunt. As bodies pile up and leads go cold, the main target from that old case reaches out to her. He’s still at large, and now he needs protection. Imogen doesn’t trust him, and it’s not only because he’s offering intel that sounds too good to be true. He’s already tried to kill her once.
Set in D.C., Seattle and small town America, Emergency Powers is a story of corruption and redemption, achieved at enormous personal cost.
“A high-stakes political thriller that feels so chillingly true, you pray it’s not”—TOM STRAW, seven-time NYT bestselling author, as Richard Castle
“RECOMMENDED” – Kate Robinson, US Review of Books
“Compelling, heart-pounding and thoroughly intriguing…”— STEPHEN MACK JONES, August Snow, Lives Laid Away
“Keen portraits of true patriotism—and the courage that drives it.” — ART TAYLOR, The Boy Detective & The Summer of ’74
Published by: James McCrone
Publication Date: October 1, 2020
Number of Pages: 300
ISBN: 9780999137727 (9780999137734)
Series: An Imogen Trager Thriller
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Bookshop.org | Goodreads
James McCrone has a Master of Fine Arts degree from the University of Washington, in Seattle. He’s a member of Crime Writers of America (NY Chapter), Sisters in Crime (DE-Valley Chapter), Int’l Assoc. of Crime Writers, Philadelphia Dramatists Center and Int’l Thriller Writers.
He’s the author of Faithless Elector and Dark Network, the first two Imogen Trager “Noirpolitik” suspense-thrillers about a stolen presidency. The third Imogen Trager thriller, EMERGENCY POWERS, is due out in late September, 2020. His short story, “Numbers Don’t Lie” will appear in the anthology Low Down Dirty Vote, Vol.2 (M. Berry, ed.), out on July 4, 2020.
A Pacific Northwest native, he now lives in Philadelphia with his wife and three adult children.
James’s work explores characters pitted against forces larger than themselves. Both on an off the page, he’s fascinated with politics and issues of social responsibility and justice.
Q&A with James McCrone
Welcome and thank you for stopping by CMash Reads
What was the inspiration for this book?
Great question! The character of Imogen Trager, the heroine of Emergency Powers, inspired me and fired me up. She grabbed me and demanded that I “listen” to her and pay attention. She’s smart, engaged and driven – and you’d do well to do as she says (ha ha :).
I’m grateful that those qualities are something a lot of the early reviews have picked up on. Imogen’s been marginalized at the FBI, and I was looking for a way to examine the current political climate and how it came about, not as a screed, or a polemic, but as an examination of what’s going on now. I saw and “heard” her as the perfect foil to the conspirators.
No homework required!
Do you draw from personal experiences and/or current events?
I do draw from current events. But it’s less about what’s happening right now, and more about what it might mean—now and in the future. There’s certainly a ripped-from-the-headlines urgency to what happens in these pages, but it’s much more than headlines about things people think they know. And it’s darker. The book isn’t about the current administration—or any administration, but what could happen if we took our eye off the ball, so to speak. As long ago as the year 2000, I was unsettled by some of the anti-democracy rhetoric I was hearing, and I knew that Imogen would want to expose and put a stop to it all. Because if she doesn’t, none of us will recognize the nation.
Are any of your characters based on people that you know?
No. In fact the disclaimer at the beginning of the book says that “anyone who thinks they recognize a real person in the characters presented here is paying the author an extravagant compliment.”
• Certainly, there’s an element of myself in Imogen—I’ve forced myself to think about the times I’ve been marginalized or not heard. And I’ve put those feelings and impressions through the prism of her character.
• That being said, I see people—on the street, in the cafes—or I hear them talk, and I use bits and pieces—the way someone holds a pen, a bizarre haircut, a supercilious manner. And I use it. The constraints of writing characters who seem real in the situations in which they find themselves means that you have to make decisions about who they are, and once you start doing that, even if you began by “drawing” someone from real life, you change them. The needs of the story change them.
Your routine when writing? Any idiosyncrasies?
I write pretty much full time, 9-5. I sit in my room, type my little conspiracies and occasionally venture out for supplies. It’s not that different from lockdown, frankly. I can’t listen to music while working because I find it’s too distracting, and it’s terrible if someone out on the sidewalk in front of the house is having a conversation, because it’ll intrude on my writing, too.
Ideally, each day, I’ve done whatever business there is to do, got caught up on email, social media, and so on, before 9 or 10am. And then I write until noon-ish. I take an hour break and get back to it. Then I take a break at about 3, and run on until 5.
The strange thing is that much of what I write in the morning is terrible—and terribly frustrating! I’ve tried not writing until after lunch, thinking, I’d jump right in. But it doesn’t work. It’s the price I pay for the afternoon to be productive.
I also do the shopping and the cooking for our household, so if I have to go out, I do it as early in the morning as I can, so I can keep to schedule.
Tell us why we should read your book?
Emergency Powers is that delightful discovery—a tense, timely thriller with canny political insight and strong, complex characters. It’s well written, well researched and seamlessly crafted. It has that ripped-from-the-headlines urgency, the insider’s look a lot of readers crave.
But it’s the three tough female characters who steal the show and will stay with you. Imogen is complex and driven. She’s brave, not because she’s foolhardy, but because she must be. Her friendships are complex, too. Her only real allies in the Bureau are Special Agent in Charge Amanda Vega and Special Agent Annette (“Nettie”) Sartain, both of whom disliked her at first. Both come to like her. And to respect her.
Are you working on your next novel? If so, can you tell us a little bit about it?
I can’t say too much, but it’s another thriller, this time set outside the US, in Scotland. It deals with the Scottish Independence referendum and Brexit. I’m afraid that’s all I can say now. I’m almost done with the first draft, and I’m pretty excited about it.
What are you reading now?
I just finished Meg Gardiner’s Dark Corners of the Night, and Blacktop Wasteland, by SA Cosby, and before that I was on a Philip Kerr jag. My wife got me four of his Bernie Gunther novels for Father’s Day. I have a massive TBR pile next to the bed.
Your novel will be a movie. Who would you cast?
I think Jessica Chastain would be perfect as Imogen. She has just the right level of simmering restraint—and the red hair! She, like Imogen, radiates a calm, self-assuredness.
• Vega could be played by Paulina Gaitan (she was in “Narcos” and “Sin Nombre”) or Natalia Cordova-Buckley (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.) – someone tough, but not hard-hearted. Clare-Hope Ashitey (Seven Seconds) might be a good Nettie. For Calder, I think Kevin McKidd or Dominic West.
• Having made my choices, I have to say: I know nothing about casting. I decided this was true after watching Amadeus, the film about Mozart. I really admire this film, but think about it:
The kid from Animal House plays Mozart? The principal from Ferris Beuhler’s Day Off is Emperor Joseph? If you’d asked me, I’dve said, never in a million years. And yet they’re perfect in the roles.
Favorite leisure activity/hobby>?
Cooking, reading, dancing (though there hasn’t been much of that since March). My wife and I will occasionally dance in the living room or out on our back patio. Fortunately, the children are grown and moved out, so there’s far less criticism or cringing than in years past.
• I worked in restaurants for more than 15 years, and I love cooking and food far too much to limit myself. I have the waistline to prove it!
There is basically nothing I don’t like. Sure, there are things I prefer over others, but unless you’re offering me sea cucumber sushi, or dried jellyfish, or that Sicilian cheese with live bugs in it, I’m probably going to eat it and enjoy it.
• My favorite thing is to cook seasonally. With what’s available now. Mid-summer to late fall is the best time. So much to choose from!
The meal I’m going to make in a couple nights is pretty close to my heart for that reason. I’m making dinner for some friends (we’ll be eating outside), and I’ll probably serve gazpacho soup to start, and sautéed scallops with pasta al pesto (the basil from my back garden) and some broad Roma beans. Ripe fruit for dessert (maybe a blueberry pie).
Catch Up With James McCrone:
JamesMcCrone.com, Chosen Words Blog, Goodreads, BookBub, Instagram, Twitter, & Facebook!
Read an excerpt:
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This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for James McCrone. There will be 4 winners. Two winners will each receive one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card and Two winners will each win EMERGENCY POWERS by James McCrone (Print ~ US and Canada addresses only). The giveaway begins on October 1, 2020 and runs through November 2, 2020. Void where prohibited.