The Main Event

Gatekeepers of Democracy

Fiction - Social Issues
523 Pages
Reviewed on 05/16/2023
Buy on Amazon

    Book Review

Reviewed by K.C. Finn for Readers' Favorite

The Main Event is a work in the political drama, satire, and interpersonal drama subgenres. It forms the fourth installment in the Gatekeepers of Democracy series but can also be read as a standalone story. Penned by Bill Lewers, it is suitable for the general adult reading audience. We find ourselves back with the unlikely but highly productive duo of Carl Marsden and Cindy Phelps as the big day finally approaches and the campaign for president sweeps the nation around them. But even this intrepid duo is not prepared for the swell of energy and chaos that the race to the top has garnered, nor the turmoil into which their personal lives will be thrown.

Bill Lewers captures a unique angle in political fiction with this focus on the people who make elections happen. It pays off to create a charming novel with mass appeal for those interested in politics and those disillusioned by the fiasco of it all. A significant strength of the work for me was its commitment to realism in the characters, whose dialogue and narrative presentation make it feel like you’re following the frustrations of close friends telling you about their crazy work life. The dynamic between Carl and Cindy is utterly charming, with quick wit, funny interactions, and a strong core bond that keeps us all firmly on the road to the story’s superb conclusions. Overall, The Main Event is a must-read for fans of the existing series, and I’d recommend it to newcomers to Lewers’ works.

Jamie Michele

Author Bill Lewers sets the stage in the very real year of 2020 when the United States witnessed a highly anticipated presidential election that posed unprecedented challenges. The Main Event, a novel in the Gatekeepers of Democracy series, portrays this chaotic political landscape through the experiences of its protagonists, Carl and Cindy, who are on opposite ends of the political spectrum as a couple but somehow make it work—for now. They elope when their wedding is canceled amidst the global pandemic, widespread civil unrest, and crippling political polarization. The marriage faces upheaval in its infancy when Cindy's mother manipulates her daughter's guilt over the elopement to install an uncle in the newly wedded Carl and Cindy's townhouse. The true test is whether or not the discourse of the election, which begins in the summer and culminates in November, but in reality is a consuming year-round endeavor, will or will not topple the couple, who have so far made their unlikely pairing thrive. Can they continue to do so?

The gut punch in The Main Event by Bill Lewers is when Cindy’s sister says to Carl, "Please don’t give up on her. And don’t let her give up on you.” This is the moment Carl and I found out together exactly how precarious a state their marriage was in and it made me really, really sad. The fact that Lewers was able to elicit an emotional gasp from me in a novel oozing with the minutiae of election details, such as how mileage reimbursement is calculated and received and the laundry list of items from a polling station that need to be returned to either the Government Center or the warehouse, is a testament to the balance that only a seasoned writer can achieve in this political and personal juggernaut. The true star of the story is Uncle Louie, who I somehow felt defensive of when Carl side-eyed the man's simple jovial nature. Sure, he talks too much as an election volunteer while the wait to vote is hours and hours long, but he's just being Uncle Louie. Although his mistakes raise eyebrows in a hotly contested race where everything is questioned and nefarious, overall, The Main Event is an insightful and engrossing book that is well-written and a delight to read.

Asher Syed

The Main Event by Bill Lewers is political fiction and the fourth book in the Gatekeepers of Democracy series. Book one of the same name as the series introduces readers to both the private lives and political affiliations of Republican Carl Marsden, a former chief election officer, and his successor, Democrat Cindy Phelps. Both their roles are found to be indispensable during preparations for a forthcoming election, despite their divergent interests. In book two, November Third, Carl and Cindy reunite and Carl uncovers a flaw in voting machines that could influence the election. Cindy is now a candidate and friend-slash-love interest of Carl and trusts him enough to take action to safeguard electoral integrity even when it poses a significant risk. In book three, Primary Peril, amidst a contentious Senate election, a murder interrupts the heated rematch between two candidates, intensified by suspicion of cover-ups, leaks, and deep-seated mistrust as the election approaches, drawing Carl and Cindy into the fray. In The Main Event, Carl and Cindy's marital union is confronted by multifaceted challenges stemming from the 2020 election, including social upheaval, political polarization, and the transformation of electoral processes due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Main Event by Bill Lewers is characterized by a highly engaging writing style that instantaneously captures the reader's attention. While the book can be enjoyed as a standalone, its full richness and depth are most appreciated when viewed in the context of the preceding three novels in the series. Lewers' weaving of real-world events that shaped the highly contentious 2020 election cycle into the storyline contributes significantly to the book's authenticity and resonance with readers. In particular, themes such as police brutality and the COVID-19 pandemic provide a realistic thread that is and was, frankly, stranger than fiction. One of the book's greatest strengths lies in its portrayal of election workers as the unsung heroes of democracy, revealing the intricate details of election processes from the inside out. By highlighting the dedication and commitment of these individuals to their roles as public servants, Lewers offers readers a unique and insightful perspective that underscores the importance of their contributions to the democratic process. Through its combination of an engaging writing style, authentic portrayal of real-world events, and unique perspective on the electoral process, The Main Event offers readers a thought-provoking and compelling fictional exploration of a pivotal moment in American history.