Disgraced Ohio State quarterback-turned-shamus Andy Hayes finally finds somebody more widely disliked than he is: a freelance online reporter who’s up to his gigabytes in scandal.
That’s mostly other people’s scandal, because Lee Hershey knows where all the bodies in the state capital are buried. That’s why everyone within a one-mile radius of the Columbus Statehouse hates him, and that’s why he feels threatened at the idea that somebody in a big SUV is following him. Swooping down to hire Andy (Fourth Down and Out, 2014, etc.) as his bodyguard, he carries him off to the Clarmont, a restaurant thronged by his frenemies: Lauren Atkinson, head of the state teachers’ union; Allen Ratliff, bow-tied chief of staff to Gov. Thomas Hubbard; Lily Gleason, Hubbard’s education liaison; lobbyist Jack Sterling; state Sen. Ottie Kinser; and Justice William Caldwell Bryan of the Ohio Supreme Court. All these worthies are tussling over the fate of the Fair Funding Focus, a controversial education bill Kinser has introduced, and darker powers who aren’t in attendance are just as interested in defeating the bill, loading it with amendments, or using it to humiliate their enemies. Andy’s stint as Hershey’s bodyguard ends when his client is bludgeoned to death in the Capitol press room while Andy sleeps off a doped drink in his car, but the murder doesn’t stem the tide of interchangeably scabrous officeholders and hangers-on Welsh-Huggins keeps tossing into the mix. As if worried that his plotting isn’t already dense enough, he adds a subplot in which Andy gets the rent reduced for his girlfriend, professor Anne Cooper, in return for his promise to draw out Troy Wardley, the fiance of her new landlord’s daughter, Bonnie Deckard, who’s been keeping very much to himself ever since his brother’s arrest for raping Bonnie’s 4-year-old son.
It’s nice to think there are worse crimes than those of state legislators and their enablers. Not much else in the way of sweetness and light here, though.