McCourt’s latest potboiler cuts an uneven swath through the nation’s capital, lovingly portrayed (in the sharpest Hogarthian
lines) as a nest of social climbers, criminals, homosexuals, mafiosi, religious fanatics, black supremacists, and politicians.
We’ve met Danny Delancey and many of his friends before (Time Remaining, 1993, etc.). A reporter for the East Hampton
Star (Long Island’s toniest local paper), Delancey is an inveterate survivor who grew up on the Lower East Side, went off to a
Christian Brothers boarding school, and came out in Greenwich Village (during the pre-AIDS bacchanal of the 1970s, no
less)—and lives to tell the tale. Now, in early middle age, he leads a somewhat more sedate life on the eastern edge of Long
Island, but he can still rise to the occasion when adventure beckons. This particular adventure, however, doesn’t look particularly
wild at first: It begins when Delancey is assigned to cover the congressional debate over a new environmental bill. Once inside
the District, though, Delancey finds himself in a world as foreign and malign to him as the plains of Kansas would be to Kurt
Weill. The president, a Bill Clinton look-alike known as POTUS, is something of a local joke, but Delancey soon finds himself
sniffing out what seems to be the scent of some vast conspiracy against the man—and not just against his politics, either. Is an
assassination plot hatching? Delancey has the advantage of being an outsider who can ask questions without arousing suspicion,
and he also has an array of friends—gay porn star Rain, Georgetown society hostess Bam-Bam, opera diva Vana Sprezza—who
can open doors that most journalists don’t even know how to find in broad daylight. But intelligence is only half the equation:
Can Delancey tell the tale? Judge for yourself.
A bit hyperactive even for a thriller, but McCourt’s narrative has a nice satiric edge and an air of credibility that make it
worth packing for the next campaign.