Mark Coggins. Runoff (2007) 302 pp.
San Francisco private investigator August Riordan is hired by Leonora Lee, the infamous “Dragon Lady” of Chinatown, to investigate the possible rigging of the mayoral election. The city has recently installed touch-screen voting technology, and the results are wildly different than any of the polls indicated they would be—the Chinese-American candidate even failed to carry the Chinatown precincts. Could one of the other two candidates (especially the underdog Green Party candidate) have done something to tamper with the results? Then the bodies start piling up, starting with the Elections Commissioner. A visit to the offices of the company that developed the touch-screen machines turns up another corpse. With the help his cross-dressing, torch-singing, computer expert friend Chris Duckworth, Riordan is in a race against time—the runoff election is only days away—to figure out who is really pulling the strings in the San Francisco political scene. Things start to get personal when both his new romantic interest, the Dragon Lady’s beautiful daughter Lisa (she is a recent Miss Chinatown), and his ex-fiancée/current secretary Gretchen, get caught in the crossfire.
Setting: San Francisco (Chinatown, Mission District, Civic Center)