The story is set in a near future US where the federal government has been radically downsized, unemployment is high, health insurance is rare and a lot of government services, including basic EMT and police services have been cut to the bone. There are elements of dystopian near future sci-fi and while these set a tone and provide some character motivation I think this clearly belongs in the suspense/thriller category.
The heroine is a 42-year old woman named Lara Evans who used to be a police detective but now works as a freelance EMT. She's called to the scene of a shooting where the victim is a high profile government employee who is anxious to avoid a scandal. As it happens, he's in charge of a major national competition that our heroine is going to be involved in and pressures her with his potential to influence the outcome.
Well next thing you know, her roommate at the competition is dead on the floor and our heroine is the only suspect because she's the obvious suspect and the cops don't have the time or resources to do much digging. There's a nice setup there. It works. It feels realistic enough that if we couldn't really imagine it happening in this world it wouldn't take too much of a twist to make it actually possible and from there it's a fairly fast paced action adventure.
I think there are two pretty important weaknesses with the story. The first is characterization and the second is the finish.
The characterization suffered from a lot of telling rather than showing. For example, in the first few pages we have this paragraph:
Lara loved these moments--rushing to a scene, not knowing what chaos she would encounter. In some ways, it was better than being a police officer because she kept on the move and did a lot less paperwork. She missed the authority of the badge though. She'd liked having people pay attention and feel nervous when she approached. It beat the hell out of her current personal life: a forty-two-year-old woman with no partner, no children, no power.
We learn a lot about her in that paragraph but we don't feel any of it. I don't feel like I know her any better because I'm told she doesn't like paperwork. Nobody likes paperwork. If I saw her joking with a former colleague about how he was going to go back and write up a report on someone who got shot while she went out and saved the life of someone who got shot we'd get the same information and I would feel more like I knew the character as a person.
The other issue I had was with the end. The last 2600 words of the story start with our heroine in the last leg of the competition. She then leaves the competition, barges into the house of the director of the competition to find him dead. In doing so she finds the real reason he didn't want an investigation, gets in a confrontation with the villain, gets rescued (sort of) by the cops and ordered back to the competition which she finishes well behind the other competitors, wins anyway, enjoys a night of celebratory sex with her new fling, forgives herself a little for something that wasn't really her fault, gets the run down on why the bad guy was a bad guy and makes plans to meet the new fling when he comes out to her neck of the woods.
It was a bit much. In particular, I thought the end of the competition was a bit contrived. The character pretty clearly felt that doing the right thing meant giving up on the competition to chase the bad guy. I think it would have been better for the character and the story for it to end like that. She doesn't get the redemption she was looking for from winning because she was off being the hero. It works for the character and it doesn't stretch the plot and since you go into the thing (at least, I did) assuming she eventually wins the competition you get to throw the readers a bit of a curve.
I feel like I am concentrating a bit too much on the negative here which I don't mean to do. It was entertaining. I read it in one day which I wouldn't have done if it didn't pull me in and carry me along. It was a pretty good story with a couple problems that kept it from being completely freakin' awesome.