Veteran Washington insider Truman (1924-2008) rises from the grave—or does she?—for another round of murder, espionage and sightseeing.
Is it by the former First Daughter or not? The long opening movement—in which Savannah private eye Bob Brixton is hired by Eunice Watkins, not to find out who killed her daughter Louise shortly after the young woman’s release from prison, but who committed the murder to which Louise confessed four years ago—doesn’t sound like her. Nor does the failure, once the scene shifts to the circle of nonpareil D.C. hostess Mitzi Cardell and her best bud, First Lady Jeanine Montgomery Jamison, to invoke a single iconic Capital landmark, though Truman’s first two dozen titles (Murder at the Opera, 2006, etc.) used up all the best sites. On the other hand, the cloak-and dagger subplot involving CIA contract assassin Emile Silva sounds as wide-eyed, earnest and unsubtle as Truman. So does her bashing of President Fletcher Jamison and his right-wing cronies, all of whom turn out to be guilty of crimes even graver than rhetorical overkill (“this is a white Christian nation built upon the backs of European immigrants"). And law professor Mackensie Smith and his gallery-owner wife Annabel are as charming and anodyne as ever, even though they have practically nothing to do. One possible conclusion is that death not only hasn’t stilled Truman; it hasn’t even much changed her voice.
Another is that the present volume, as so many earlier entries in this series were rumored to have been, is actually the work of a surviving ghostwriter whose talents might shine forth more brightly if they weren’t tethered to Annabel, Mac and the Washington social register.