McCarthy and Muskie, alumnae of the candidates' wives school of politics, join forces for a novel that's more interesting as a cynical reflection on power and the political woman than it is as an insiders'-view thriller. Celia and Johnny Mann married when he was a struggling young lawyer and she was a Catholic-school grad with looks and a conscience. Now it's 1992. Mann is running for Vice President and Celia is a founder of Peace Works, a women's organization against nuclear war. Her commitment to this cause makes her an embarrassment enough to her ambitious husband; but Celia really courts disaster when she mentions to her husband that she's overheard some nasty conspiring between, among others, his chief advisor, Sam Drottman, and a slippery Canadian (whom we know to be head of an international confederacy of the oppressed). With the election approaching, Sam persuades Johnny that everyone's best bet is to drug this troublesome woman and shut her up. Months pass, the election's won, and poor Celia's doped out of control. Johnny checks her into a local hospital, where she's a virtual prisoner, off bounds to honest doctors, guarded by her husband's thugs. She manages to get a frantic distress call off to her alma mater, though, and soon a little knot of determined nuns arrive in Washington. They team up with Celia's loyal hairdresser and some local hoods to smuggle the prisoner out of the hospital, but as Celia slowly recovers from sedation, she learns that conspirators are everywhere. Things will grind on to a bloody climax on the runway of Logan airport. . . As a thriller, the novel falls flat; but the depiction of the world of Washington wives is fascinating, and the account of Celia's growing self-awareness amidst a forcefield of political pressures makes a strong, unusual portrait. In all: an uneven effort of unquestionable interest.