Andrea Harding is a recent college graduate looking forward to attending Duke Law School when her world is turned upside down by the shooting of her father, Nicholas, and uncle, Michael, in a surprising and puzzling attack. They are the only family she has, aside from her paternal grandmother Dorothy, so when her uncle dies from the attack and her father lays comatose in ICU, it falls to Andrea to not only investigate who would want to kill her father and uncle, but also to oversee Harding Industries, the family company.
When her father’s longtime attorney and one of a handful of family friends, Beth Cowling, rushes to help Andrea long distance, the youngest Harding soon finds herself surrounded by a bevy of intriguing new friends and helpers. First to arrive is Beth’s own daughter, Riva, acting as Andrea’s attorney after Andrea is violently attacked in her father’s home, where she grew up, forcing her to kill both would-be assassins.
When Nicholas’s on again/off again lover, state prosecutor and gubernatorial hopeful Kerry Marcus, is equally at a loss to name suspects in the Harding family attacks, Riva begins her own investigation into the short list of family friends and colleagues, including Don Marshall, former colleague of Nicholas’s at Marshall Pharmaceutical, which Don now runs, and Don’s wife Karen. Marshall has a shady past, including an incident at his company that also involved Andrea’s father.
She also looks closely at Marcus Ricci, father of Andrea’s closest high school friend, Jason. After Jason’s death from leukemia, Ricci becomes like a second father to Andrea. Ricci is also widely believed to have ties to the New Jersey mob.
But Beth has another contact she wants involved in the investigation, Deirdre Southington, daughter of Beth’s old friend Cordelia Southington. The Southington family has more money than God, as well as, through Deirdre, more contacts in the intriguing world of international espionage. A former NSA agent, Deirdre is mysterious and beautiful in a cold way. An eccentric who travels via private rail car, she is also extraordinarily persuasive, holding a PhD in forensic psychology that she has put to great use in both her work with the NSA and on her own, as a defender of good, rooting out evil doers and ensuring they are brought to her own brand of justice.
Andrea, Riva, and Deirdre all also cast a suspicious eye on the Oakes brothers, Carlton and Jefferson, who run Oakes Industries along with their silent partner and cousin, New Jersey state senator Schuyler Colfax, who also has his eye on the governor’s seat. Oakes Industries has recently made an attempt to purchase Harding Industries, a seemingly irrational move that is rebuffed by Nicholas. What no one knows until much later is that the Oakes brothers have entered into a business deal with Russian mobster Viktor Roman, who represents the real party interested in acquiring Harding Industries, a Vor, Russian organized crime unit, with heavy international interests in the energy sector.
Andrea matures quickly as she rapidly learns who she can and cannot trust during her search for the people out to kill her family. Along with her new friends and advocates, she discovers Harding Industries holds a soon to expire option to buy property that could become the source of untold billions from oil reserves, and moves in the nick of time to exercise their right to purchase. But the biggest blow for the Harding family is yet to comethe discovery that Viktor Roman has promised Kerry Marcus the governor’s seat in exchange for information about the Hardings, including Nicholas and Michael’s whereabouts on the night they are shot.
Ultimately, Andrea chooses to forego law school and becomes her father’s new partner in Harding Industries, no doubt with many adventures yet to come.
Masterfully told using a smattering of historical facts along with a soundtrack of classical music masterpieces, this thriller keeps readers on edge until the very end.
About the Author
Bill Powers is a former pharmaceutical R&D executive, world traveler, and history buff turned author.
Bill’s first Harding Family novel, The Pharm House, was published in 2013 by DonnaInk Publications, Inc., and was named a Finalist in the Medical Thriller category of the 2014 National Indie Excellence Awards.
In that debut novel, Bill put to use his twenty-six years of experience working for Johnson & Johnson in pharmaceutical R&D, where he ultimately rose to the position of Vice President, Global Preclinical Development. In his years with the company, Bill was instrumental in the development of several marketed pharmaceutical products, leading groups of scientists in the United States, Europe, and Asia.
Bill has also led research groups in Belgium and India, in addition to his extensive personal travels in the United States, Europe, and Asia.
He earned his PhD in Toxicology from the University of Cincinnati, and is a Diplomate of the American Board of Toxicology, and has published numerous abstracts, articles, and book chapters on a variety of toxicology subjects.
Bill’s parents were both teachers who stoked his childhood love for words and voracious appetite for reading. He is married, with one adult child, and has moved away from the corporate world to focus on his writing career.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I so enjoyed this story. It would not be easy to get a couple of police at your door in the middle of the night telling you that your father and uncle had been shot and were in critical condition. Then when you think things have settled a little, you are then attacked in your own home. What do you do? Andrea Harding turns to her few friends and family members to help her find out why her father and uncle were shot. This was a great thriller and I loved the characters. I received this book rom Smith publicity for a fair and honest opinion.
Nicholas Harding and his daughter, Andrea are introduced to the reader in Book 1 of this series, The Pharm House. I strongly recommend that you read Book 1 before tackling this one. There is a lot of background information, character construction, that is needed here. Andrea is now a college graduate. Not too long after the celebration, her father, Nicholas and her uncle, Michael are shot and killed in a surprise attack. She is the only member of her family still standing. Who wanted her entire family dead? Is it only a fluke she wasn't killed as well? There are lots of suspects.. from a family friend to a man with ties to the mob? All the people who now want to purchase the family business ... Harding Industries? Andrea is brave enough to start her own investigation ... and it may well cost her more than she wants to pay .. her life. The author has done his homework as there are historical facts intermingled with this well-written fictional tale. The characters, both good and bad, are well-defined. There's an intriguing take on the world of pharmaceuticals. Again, I would recommend reading The Pharm House first to pick up all the little nuances that make a story really good. Many thanks to the author and Word Slinger Publicity who provided a softcover edition in exchange for an honest, unbiased review.
Reviewed by Patricia Day for Readers' Favorite The Torch is Passed: A Harding Family Story is written by Bill Powers. Having just graduated college, Andrea finds her world ripped apart when two family members are shot. Her father is one and, with his life hanging in the balance, she must take control of the family business until he recovers. Business partners, Carlton and Jefferson of Oakes Industries make a play to not only take over but own Harding Industries. They offer a staggering amount of money in an attempt to obtain control, but fail despite the amount offered. Why would they be prepared to pay so much for a company worth much less? Andrea is fast-tracked to adulthood as the world she once knew vanishes. An attempt on her own life leads her to find trusted support in Beth and Riva. Both women are powerfully able to defend and protect not only Andrea, but also those she holds dear. Her determination to keep Harding Industries intact for future growth, takes her along violent pathways, meeting very disagreeable, volatile people. This is a fast-paced story of greed, murder, and ambition.Thrown into the mix are characters from the Russian mob, whose cold, calculated methods to annihilate anyone crossing their path leave you breathless, and you have a book that will grab you from the very first page. It is a tale of corporate greed and misguided trust and broken trust. I enjoyed this book very much. There’s a lot of detail, but the characters are strong and you quickly determine whose side you are on. Well written.