"If you're looking for big business wheeling-and-dealing, international intrigue, murder, mayhem, and high-geared action, you've come to the right place. Toss in a charming and nervy protagonist like Lynn Dayton and L. A. Starks' STRIKE PRICE is right on the money. Well-written, well-plotted and well worth a reader's time."--Carlton Stowers, two-time Edgar winner
"STRIKE PRICE takes the reader from Oklahoma Indian reservations to the streets of Florence, in an imaginative and well informed fusion of oil refining economics, Native American politics, and the potential for lethal mayhem in the global energy market."--Michael Ennis, author of New York Times bestseller, The Malice of Fortune
Murder disrupts a billion-dollar oil deal.STRIKE PRICE is a story about a business deal turned deadly, concluding with a plot to destroy a hidden, crucial US oil center and bring the US into confrontation with another global power. To stop the plot and save lives, up-by-the-bootstraps Lynn Dayton must trust a Cherokee elder who carries a corrosive secret.
STRIKE PRICE features authentic Cherokee syllabary text in clues that tie fascinating Native American history to global high-stakes drama today.
"Plan on not sleeping tonight." James Gary Vineyard - - - author of The Grave On Peckerwood Hill
"Fast-paced and convincingly choreographed, Starks' novel presents a spot-on depiction of today's oil business that grips and scares and offers the reader plenty to think about." Richard Holcroft - - - author of Patriot's Blood
KIRKUS REVIEWStarks (13 Days: The Pythagoras Conspiracy, 2006) offers a thriller set in oil country.Energy company executive Lynn Dayton returns in this sequel. Dayton's company, TriCoast, has a refinery to sell, and there are several interested buyers, including local Cherokee Nation investors and a Saudi prince, as well as Asian and British contingents. The death of a refinery employee at first seems like a fluke, but when the medical examiner rules the cause of death as poison, tensions begin to rise. Dayton's ex-husband's firm is working with the Cherokee Nation group, and when he's poisoned too, many suspect that Dayton is behind it. She, in turn, grows alarmed that someone close to her may be a dangerous criminal. She soon finds herself pushed to the limit, as she also has a sick father and a wedding to plan while she tries to close the TriCoast deal without losing her life. The novel takes place in several locations, including Texas, Oklahoma and parts of Europe, and is mainly narrated in the third person, except for a few first-person passages by a mysterious figure whose identity is slowly revealed over the course of the novel. The dialogue is quick and punchy . . . Starks handles the pacing and suspense masterfully, and although Dayton's final heroic act may strain credulity, it still makes for a thrilling conclusion.
An often gripping novel with a determined heroine, a high body count and a mysterious villain.
Summary: When several people involved in bidding for an oil refinery are murdered, the situation becomes far more than a billion-dollar business deal. A self-made woman in the oil industry, Lynn Dayton fights to save lives when escalating attacks reveal a hired assassin's plan to disrupt oil trade, wreck world economies, and draw another global power into dangerous confrontation with the United States. Are the killers rogue civil servants challenging the Cherokees' financial independence, Sansei operatives again wreaking violence, or sinister investors swapping the bidding war for a real one? Lynn Dayton and Cherokee tribal executive Jesse Drum must learn to trust each other so they can find and stop the killers. Can sobering up really be fatal? How have so many of the deaths been made to appear accidental? Who's creating weapons with modern poisons and ancient Cherokee arts?
Vancouver, Downtown Eastside
Mid-August, Thursday morning
If the seventh circle of hell existed on earth, the southwest corner of Main and Hastings was its zip code. To stand in one of North America’s most fetid basements, a place nicknamed Pain and Wasting, was to see hopelessness at its most pathetic, horror at its most unredeemable. It was no mistake I was to meet the enforcer here. I had been told he was Chechen.
Main and Hastings warned of the living death I would endure if I didn’t accept the terms I had been offered. But the Chechen, or whoever he was, didn’t know I’d been suckled on abandonment and neglect.
The squat Chechen was easy to identify, the only healthy-looking person for blocks.
We stepped over a bundle of urine-soaked rags hiding some loser on the nod, walked around feces, and avoided dozens of orange-tipped syringes dotting the sidewalk.
The square-headed man spoke matter-of-factly. “This. Or worse.”
“I’ve seen worse.” That wasn’t strictly true. In Iraq, there was no separating friend from foe. None in my squad could determine who was hiding explosives in a belt, under a blouse, or in a baby carriage. Yet the Iraqis were vital, full of plans, ripe with love and hatred.
These zombie husks, as desiccated as eighty-year-olds, were tracked and scabbed from cocaine, heroin, and meth. A knot to our left scoured the sidewalk for cans to recycle.
Rain pelted cardboard boxes the heartless called condos, softening them until they collapsed on the oblivious occupants inside.
We wouldn’t be overheard. If someone did report us, it would be dismissed as a stoned-out hallucination. If the slightest thing went wrong, I would leave here with broken fingers, a sliced-off ear, a shot-up knee.
We passed boarded-up storefronts and drug deals—a woman skinnier than a runway model and a man with his hand in her shorts, a transgendered woman kissing another something-or-other, two men leaning against a wall, their hands hidden. One lacked all of his teeth. The arms of the second were covered in bruises and speed bumps.
Each looked at me, beseeching. Not to be saved, only to be saved for the moment. Money for the next score. High by ten a.m.
The Chechen grabbed my arm with a muscleman’s grip. “If we trust you to do this thing, you good for it?”
“Then we help finish your problem.” He drew out the last word, rolling it on his tongue.
I doubted I would ever finish with him or our boss. They had pulled me into a sticky web of payback, keeping me thrashing until time to devour me.
I missed my platoon, though it had been a while since I’d seen them. Somebody would have had the right joke to put this fucked-up place in perspective. More likely, someone would have told us to leave this hellhole and hit clothing-optional Wreck Beach. Let’s see if anyone can really rock it in old Van.
I waved away crack smoke, trying not to inhale.
The effects from last night’s booze slowed me, or I would have seen what was coming. The enforcer dropped two steps behind me. In a heartbeat there was a gun muzzle at the base of my skull.
A drug deal gone bad, that’s all anyone would think when they found my body. Curious skeletons drifted closer, ready to scavenge.
“We give you four weeks,” the enforcer whispered.
When the muzzle was gone, so was the Chechen.
STRIKE PRICE wins the 2014 Texas Association of Authors award for Best Thriller/Mystery!
“Ms. Starks has an eye for detail and richly paints a picture of the Oklahoma landscape and its people. The insight given through the killers mind is especially riveting, as the reader will be far into the story before everything falls together and the killer is unmasked.” Literary R&R
4 Stars. “Wow! This was a wild ride. Many things I did not know about the oil industry and Native Americans in this book, I found very interesting for sure. It took me awhile to read this one, I had to back track a few times to catch up with the ever-changing story/plot which was very suspenceful (sic) and intriguing. I enjoyed reading Strike Price - very good book.” Jeff - - - Goodreads
“dialogue is quick and punchy . . . Starks handles the pacing and suspense masterfully, and although Dayton's final heroic act may strain credulity, it still makes for a thrilling conclusion . . . a determined heroine, a high body count and a mysterious villain.” Kirkus Indie Reviews
“4 Stars. I enjoyed reading this exciting story and was fully involved in the build-up to the final conclusion.” John Buissink - - - Goodreads