Craig Henderson revs up an action-packed plot, one that goes from zero to 60 and barely pauses, in Welcome to the Game. His debut thriller stars a businessman who is driven to crime when stresses pile up. Spencer Burnham left a successful career as a rally car driver in England for Detroit, where his wife, Marielle, grew up. Spencer had long dreamed of owning a dealership specializing in foreign cars catering to people "who like to drive but don't feel the need to follow the herd." Spencer easily finds a banker who is "a staunch ally" of his business plan; the man is swayed by Spencer's "British charm, the racing stories, the pretty American wife with her genuine Detroit grit." But Motor City isn't ready for these cars that look and handle differently. Soon, his business verges on bankruptcy with no chance of his loans being extended; his wife dies in an automobile accident; his alcoholism spirals out of control; and he is on the verge of losing custody of his 11-year-old daughter, Abby. Spencer still has his unparalleled driving skills coupled with an uncanny feel for Detroit's streets. Those are the skills that volatile money launderer Dominic McGrath needs. Accepting a job driving for Dominic's operation plunges Spencer into a world of violence that he is unprepared for.
Henderson accelerates Welcome to the Game with finely tuned action that's gritty but never gratuitous. The flawed Spencer creates his own problems, but Henderson makes him an empathetic character readers will root for. --Oline H. Cogdill, freelance reviewer