Near-delicious junk from Watergate mate Dean (author of the nonfiction memoir Mo: A Woman's View of Watergate, 1975). It's June 1989, the honeymoon days of the post. Reagan era. An anonymous female calls 911: Bradford Barry, President Kane's chief of staff, is dead in a hotel bathroom. Three men are up for his job: decent Mark Kirkland, the press secretary; former senator and presidential moneyman, Eliot Ives; and idealistic ex-Marine Dalton Riggs, the National Security Advisor. So--and here's the fun--it's an all-out battle between their oh-so-social wives: squeaky clean Jan Kirkland, whose heart belongs to her CIA daddy; histrionic Sinclaire Ives, a Joan-Collins-in-training; and Caroline Riggs, a gracious and intelligent Texan, who drowns her lack of fulfillment in drink. Sinclaire tries to wreak havoc with a video of what might be Dalton Riggs wielding whips and chains; Jan, miffed at Sinclaire, has her publicly barred from Brad Barry's society funeral; Caroline swills early morning brandies, dreams up clever insults, and copes with her daughter's pregnancy. And the investigation into Barry's death turns up interesting leads: clues linking each of the three wives to the scene of death. The husbands, meanwhile, are scrounging shamelessly for presidential favor. The whole crew ends up in black tie in rural Virginia, for the event People magazine would call ""the party of the year,"" which culminates in a fiery and pointless conflagration. The fluff is flying here and, sure, the plot's overwrought and loose-ended, but the women are a lively bunch. Each of the three is likable, complicated, titillated to the extreme by proximity to power. A highly readable sex-and-politics frolic.