Crisscrossing sexual allegations heat up a dirty, vacuous Senate race: a bittersweet election-year bonbon from veteran journalist Wicker (One of Us, 1991, etc.). After years of catatonic dozing in a safe western House district, Rep. Victor T. Donovan suddenly explodes onto the national scene when he interrupts a routine subcommittee hearing by accusing a prominent industrialist of ties to pornography. When the resulting rocket of publicity demonstrates that although Donovan may not have an idea in his head, he has a record clean as a blank slate and an unmatched instinct for the political jugular, kingmaker Darwin John decides he's just the long-shot to take on two-term Senator O. Mack Bender. Armed with TV-generation Rafael Ames's attack ads (``Even his ink is red!'') and a dubious rumor about Bender's ancient dalliance with Gabriella Lukes--a rumor whose possible backlash he defuses by publicly firing Calvin Kyle, the digger who dug it up--Donovan pulls close enough in the polls to provoke Bender into contemplating an equally scurrilous counterattack (substantiated by none other than Kyle, who's naturally gone over to the enemy): revealing the equally ancient liaison between Josie Donovan and aging, womanizing columnist Milo Speed. Sensation- -because although many candidates in US politics have lived down their own sexual shenanigans, nobody's ever survived public identification as a cuckold. Warned of the danger by unloving but loyal Josie, Donovan plots to contain the damage, not knowing that the threat of exposure is driving Speed back to Josie and away from his current bedmate, perky, calculating staffer Lacy Farnes--who uses one cool eye to assess the candidate's virtue and the other to plot revenge. Electoral politics without gloves, courtesy, idealism, intelligence, or substantive issues of any kind--maybe so close to the current state of affairs that it turns out to be more depressing than funny. Read it and weep.