The re-election campaign of an Illinois Senator heats up when his serial fornication tangles him in murder.
When his political consultant, Phil Wylie, commits suicide, Senator Warren Nichols hires Dev Conrad to take his place. And just in time, too, because somebody uncomfortably close to the campaign is about to sabotage Warren’s televised debate against Jim Lake in an exceptionally nasty and inventive way. Hard-nosed Dev thinks the power behind this latest dirty trick may be Lake’s legendary dirty trickster R.D. Greaves. But Greaves has bigger fish to fry, as he indicates when he demands $1 million for a videotape that proves conclusively that Warren’s bed-hopping past extends to the present. Warren swears he can’t come up with that much cash; Greaves insists he won’t take a penny less. Dev, stuck in the middle, is preparing to offer Greaves a fraction of what he’s demanding when his plans are suddenly changed by the news that Greaves has been murdered. Now his headache over whether he can bargain Greaves down is replaced by a much bigger worry: What’s happened to that tape?
The setup, characters and mystery are all standard fare. But veteran Gorman (Fools Rush In, 2007, etc.) provides rewardingly dry-eyed political savvy without the bloat of most novelists who patrol this turf. The prose is pared so close to the bone that it makes Elmore Leonard look positively garrulous.