Throat-clutching man-on-the-run melodrama that subordinates the D.C. types of the title to Gorman's beloved small-town Iowa. At age 15, Darcy Fuller, whose parents have lived in Crystal Falls for only a year, is already well on her way to becoming the town tramp. She's flirted shamelessly, bedded half the men in town, and photographed them in flagrante with that blackmailer's standby, a hidden camera. Manipulative Darcy's even turned the head of broken-down athlete Richie McGuire, beloved of farmer Susan Kelly, herself long courted by Richie's bitter rival, violent cop Steve Arnette. When Darcy's found dead hours after a devastating public fight with Richie, the stage is set for the weak-kneed local hero to run and hide, pursued by every Crystal Falls native who's motivated by a cash reward. But Richie's sister Amy, the town D.A., can't believe her brother killed Darcy, and it's only a matter of time before she and her long- suffering swain, assistant police chief Sam Bowers, turn up evidence that will implicate photogenic pork-barrel champ Senator David Cummings and his brainy, ruthless sister Helen. An unbroken skein of rapid-fire dialogue stretches by turns Richie, Susan, Amy, and Sam on the old rack of love vs. duty. (There's also a poignant struggle for the soul of sweet, mentally impaired handyman Jimmy Wade, who keeps getting his idol Richie in ever deeper trouble.) Yet since Gorman (The First Lady, 1995, etc.), who's peerlessly effective in turning the screws on his characters--he cuts back and forth shamelessly from Helen searching Darcy's house or Richie being given 15 seconds to come out of his hiding place--loses interest in them when they aren't at greatest risk, the action remains as lightweight as in a summer movie. Familiar types expertly limned. Unlike that much darker Cedar Rapids native Ed Gorman, E.J. gives every single character exactly what he or she deserves.