It would be hard to think that Higgins, with such a smashing familiarity with the lowlife of Boston and environs and their vulgate -- all those Friends and Games and Trades -- could write an only indifferently interesting book. He has, in spite of the conversational zap, and you'll spend, say, some 100 pages searching for a story in that City on the Hill which is Washington, looking at a lot of names without recognizing them, trying to pin the tail on a donkey here or an elephant there during the 100 dispiriting days after Watergate. As observed by and commented on by Hank Cavanaugh, cop's son who made it through law school at night to become the PR man for Sam Barry, congressman from Massachusetts, and probably the only honest man to emerge from all that grout, In fact, Sam's obsolete, still hoping that a decent president can be made when there isn't any potential in a country sapped of idealism, incentive and interest in anything except perhaps ""overtime before Christmas."" Cavanaugh talks around between drinks with assorted bedfellows, pols, connections. . .but this is not so much a novel as a pragmatic text telling us the things we know and don't want to know. . . . You're left wondering whether all that hard-edged humor and savvy can create a bloc of concern in ""the art of the possible"" when there are no longer any possibilities around.