The undisputed king of the one-sentence paragraph and the speed-merchant plot delivers yet another successful thriller (The Marilyn Tapes, 1995, etc.), this time featuring a gaggle of characters yanked from the headlines and a resourceful First Lady as heroine. Claire Hutton leads a troubled life as the wife of embattled Republican President Matt Hutton: unfounded rumors of Matt's affairs have shaken the comfortably domestic, moderately conservative White House, generating a feeding-frenzy for the press and driving Claire--almost--into the arms of a college friend turned feckless Washington gigolo. She recovers her self-esteem, but not before the feckless lowlife extorts a hundred grand from her and then gets murdered by far-right-wing radio commentator Knox Stansfield (another former college friend). Naturally, Claire's been carefully framed for the killing, and the rest of the story tracks her efforts both to clear her name and to salvage Matt's electoral fortunes. In typical Gorman fashion, it's a cavalcade of ugliness and intrigue, with everyone getting in on the fun, from Knox's chauffeur to the First Family's mildly psychotic daughter, from a besotted has-been police detective to the vixenish daughter of a crusading televangelist. Meanwhile, Claire's beautiful, crippled, disloyal secretary--in cahoots with Knox--has to secure an illicit tape of Knox's confession from an ex-con who works for the TV preacher and who knows that Knox is boffing the preacher's daughter. She pulls it off, but the harrowing high-speed car chase on the Beltway afterward showcases the First Lady's hot- pursuit, French Connection driving skills. Knox erases the tape, but in the end justice comes from an unlikely source--in the form of forgotten evidence. Faultlessly zippy and never, never boring. Significantly unmoored from any sort of reality, but with so sensational a parody of the Washington circus that it doesn't matter.