From Publishers Weekly
Meltzer credits 143 people in his acknowledgments, a testament to massive research involving everything from the smallest details of our government's inner workings to the scientific complexities of chaos theory and advanced neutrino research. He's far too seasoned a pro (The Tenth Justice; The Millionaires) to ever let readers bog down in minutiae, though, using his impressive background material as rocket fuel for this rip-roaring novel of government intrigue. Best friends Matthew Mercer and Harris Sandler have worked for years as professional Capitol Hill staffers. With boredom and burnout threatening, they've joined a secret group of other like-minded workers to play the Zero Game, which uses congressional voting and government administrative procedure as the basis for placing bets. "We don't change the laws, or pass bad legislation, or stroke our evil goatees and overthrow democracy as we know it. We play at the margins; where it's safe-and where it's fun." The two decide to bet their life savings when a seemingly innocent appropriations item, the sale of an abandoned South Dakota gold mine, becomes part of the game. Because of his senior position as an appropriations committee staffer, Matthew is sure he has a lock on this one. Things go horribly wrong, and soon Harris and Viv Parker, a young Senate page, are on the run, fleeing from hired killer Martin Janos. Their flight takes them to the abandoned gold mine, where they find more mystery and near death 8,000 feet below the surface of the earth. Janos, their nemesis, is relentless, as is the action, and readers will be left breathless.
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When Matthew Mercer confides to his best friend, Harris Sandler, that he's thinking of leaving his cushy job as a senior staffer on Capitol Hill, Harris convinces him to stay by inviting him to play the Zero Game, an anonymous wagering game where you bet on the likelihood of some piece of legislation passing. It's a silly game, but the stakes are minimal, so Matthew joins in, enjoying the diversion and finding the anonymity intriguing. The bet in front of them now is a gimme, especially since Matthew can control its outcome, so the pair decides to up the ante and go for broke. Trouble is, there's another bidder out there (Who else could have such an interest?), and both Matthew and Harris sense that this bet just might be their last. They've learned the hard way that there's no one they can trust and have no choice but to find out who's behind the now-murderous game. Coming to their aid is an unlikely savior, a teenage Senate page who can duck in and out of private offices without raising suspicion. Packed with plenty of backroom D.C. ambience and lots of action, the novel also boasts improved plotting and character development since Meltzer's last high-concept best-seller, The Millionaires
(2001). Mary Frances WilkensCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved