Proof positive that Franklin Roosevelt wasn’t the only member of his family to linger in office past his prime is yet another in the apparently endless procession of stories by the late Elliott Roosevelt, this one, like Murder in the Lincoln Bedroom (2000), readied for publication by William Harrington. Douglas Douglas, a member of FDR’s White House police staff, has been found stabbed to death at his customary station near the president’s bedroom. Eleanor Roosevelt wastes no time getting on the case and working with Ed Kennelly of the DC Homicide Division and Stan Szezygiel of the Secret Service. Their investigations turn up an oddity about lissome Angela Patchen, a staff secretary whose exit that night should have been registered but wasn’t. There’s more—much more—as motives and alibis are explored in eventually numbing detail, but neither motive nor murderer, when they’re finally unmasked, carry conviction.
Readers of a certain age may enjoy the susurrus of names from the past—from Harry Truman to Bing Crosby, from Dutch Schultz to Meyer Lansky—in a story that’s amiably readable despite its shortcomings.