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by Ed Gorman

Pub Date: Oct. 12th, 2010
ISBN: 978-0-312-53298-7
Publisher: Minotaur

A Chicago political consultant hired by a suburban Illinois Congresswoman discovers that dirty tricks are even dirtier, and more felonious, outside the Windy City.

Dev Conrad isn’t running Susan Cooper’s campaign himself. His staffers Ben Weinberg and Kristin Daly are the ones tamping down the candidate’s youthful indiscretions while they burnish her record of public service. But Dev checks in to check out Ben’s report that Susan’s been disappearing twice a week and telling Ben off when he’s tried to follow her. Tailing her to the Family Inn, Dev finds that things are much worse than he could have imagined. Item: Susan’s been spending quality time with unemployed singer Bobby Flaherty and his pregnant wife Gwen, not the kind of people she’d bring to a fundraiser. Item: Opposition researchers Monica Davies and Greg Larson are ready to pounce on whatever secret she’s hiding. Item: Somebody in the campaign is feeding the opposing camp information. Item: Susan’s wicked stepmother Natalie has been paying off a blackmailer who’s threatened to expose the secret. Can things get any worse? Of course they can. Monica is murdered. Ditto the blackmailer. Detective Priya Kapoor fastens on the suspect most likely to embarrass the campaign, which is overwhelmed with leaks, treachery and other high crimes and misdemeanors.

Both the mystery and the killer are forgettable. But Gorman (Ticket to Ride, 2009, etc.) creates such a deliciously knowing portrait of the down and dirty of political campaigns and family secrets that you forget the people are just made up.