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As in his last large Washington novel, Conflict of Interest, Whitten presents a relentlessly involved tale of Congressional scheming that quickly comes to a boil and never stops steaming. Henry Strabico, a Harvard Law School grad from an Italian-American background (he's first generation), becomes a consumer-advocate lawyer when his brother's son dies at birth: Henry lucks and bucks his way through a very big court settlement with a drug company responsible for the death. But years later, Henry is tiring of his Nader-ish role as Washington's monkish consumer defender; only recently has he come into a viable sex life, with a married Congresswoman who is up for censure by the House Ethics Committee. And Henry's purity is under further severe strain: he's leading the heaviest anti-trust attack ever mounted against Big Oil, and Big Oil is fighting back by raiding a hotel room where Henry is flagrante delicto with still another married woman (an oil heiress!) and by blackmailing him with photographs. Eventually, he's forced to resign and becomes a pariah, although he has beaten the blackmailers by calling in a childhood friend (now a Mafia leader) to protect him. Henry's panic forces him to a long recovery in the Italian countryside, where he beds his heiress while still loving his Congresswoman. If he reveals his Mafia connection, he can prove the top men of Big Off are blackmailers, and the House's anti-trust law could squeak through. Should he squeal on himself, show himself even blacker than anyone knows--but by that choice win the big fight? Busy, unsubtle, and paper-thin--but fanciers of political dirt can always rely on Whitten's vigorous, crude panache.

Pub Date: June 8th, 1979
Publisher: Doubleday