CITY OF SHADOWS by James Dalton


Email this review


Dalton debuts with an action-filled mean-streeter set in Nixon-era Washington, D.C.: a gung-ho cop, an Ollie North–like Marine, and a thoughtful senatorial aide discover a scam that might have helped bring on the president’s resignation.

It’s 1968, and John Quinn, an idealistic lad from northern Ohio, can’t get a cop’s job anywhere but D.C., where he’s baptized by fire in the riots after the assassination of Martin Luther King. Asked by friends back home to find out what happened to a small-town beauty, Quinn traces her to a lonely house out in Prince Georges County, where he discovers the young woman’s remains in the kitchen garbage disposal. Quinn declares war on sleazy local mobster Joe Nezneck’s prostitution ring but runs afoul of the cops whom Nezneck has paid off. Meanwhile, Marine Captain Nathan Holloway is made an aide to Henry Kissinger, with orders to report everything he sees to the Pentagon. While poking around classified documents, he is first befriended, then almost framed, by the shadowy CIA operative Bill Penzler. Back on the streets, Quinn falls in love with Lorri, a part-time stewardess who, improbably, is also part of Nezneck’s harem. Quinn also learns that Nezneck isn’t just a pimp for men at the upper echelons of government, but before he can find out Nezneck’s game, the White House plumbers are caught at the Watergate and Vaughn Connor, aide for an influential liberal senator investigating the crime, wonders what evil could lurk in the heart of the White House. Quinn, Holloway, and Vaughn eventually meet, uncover a nasty scam involving the vice president and the CIA that has a greater potential for damage than anything on Nixon’s tapes. Dalton, a Watergate-era senatorial aide, ends by juxtaposing a shootout on a lonely road with a tearful Nixon announcing his resignation.

Cliché-ridden and overheated, but saved by menacing deep-Beltway insider gossip, suggesting that there might be still more to the dark deeds inside the Nixon White House.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 2000
ISBN: 0-312-87643-2
Page count: 384pp
Publisher: Forge
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1st, 2000