Stark has chosen a bold, crass style pitched at a level of high obscenity to portray Senator McCarthy and evoke the witch-hunter era. In the novel McCarthy is Senator Michael Malloy from the Midwest and he is in full tilt against pinkos, egghead dupes, ""Fifth Amendment Communists, "" and ""the betrayers of the past two decades."" Once again, and dismally, we re-live the Eisenhower years, the investigations into education and the Atomic Energy Commission. Or we do peripherally, for the story is about Chris Durant's investigation of Senator Malloy. Chris is on the Senator's payroll and the Senator has White House aspirations. What he is afraid of is that a particularly dirty deed in his past will be unearthed by his enemies. So he sics his own man after himself, Malloy, to see if his past is discoverable. Stark, who teaches creative writing at New York's City College, has said that his novel is modeled on The Divine Comedy Certainly, he strips off layer after layer of the Senator to arrive at the inmost leaf: Malloy in the Ninth Circle. But the technique is much closer to Citizen Kane than Dante, the progressive interviews to find out what ""Rosebud"" or Malloy means. The style is superpacked with roadside Americana and the characters are supercynical and sickening.