Irvine, Alexander C.
Mar 2009. 336 p. Del Rey, paperback, $14.00. (9780345494337).
Painfully honest and not necessarily apt to think things through, Martin Kindred is the only man in his family who isn’t a cop. He has a lot to prove, he thinks, and being hired to be the front man for life-term buyouts seems like the perfect opportunity. “Life-term buyouts?” With ever-rising prison populations, the only solution seems to be privatization. The question then becomes how to make a profit or at least keep enough liquidity. The answer is simple: offer those serving life without parole early buyouts; that is, give the prisoner millions for any specified beneficiary in exchange for accepting lethal injection. Martin is buyout’s public face, who reaps the benefits of attendant popularity but takes the fall when things go wrong. Of course, buyouts are controversial from the very beginning, and things go bad. The political underpinnings of the buyout system start to come clear when Martin lets it get personal. Irvine expertly manages an atmosphere of pressure and political machination to complement the development of a discomfiting imagined future.