Kirkus Star


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High-spirited D.C. sleuthing and a locked, room murder inside the neighborhood prison: a sparkling follow-up to last year's Badger Game. Bowen's new pair of detectives--coed Wendy Gardner and self-exiled foreign-policy mandarin Richard Michaelson--join forces in an attempt to protect Wendy's father, a fallen senator doing time at Frietchieburg Correctional Facility, from political pressure to spill secrets he doesn't know. Before Senator Gardner can find out what or why he's supposed to know about ""sugar,"" though, he's tabbed as the prime suspect in the shooting of fellow-felon Sweet Tony Martinelli, a Miami crime lord who's wound up in his compound. Why was hard-nosed Martinelli ever sent to this minimum-security country club? How did his killer smuggle a gun past the prison's metal detectors? Why would anybody put the finger on him while videotape cameras were recording his death? And if the murderer wasn't Senator Gardner, how did he escape past Gardner in the corridor outside? Wendy and Michaelson don't look for answers in the prison--the investigation and the murder suspects come in for only a cursory glance--but at a hilarious Washington party and in the computer files of a congressional staffer who likes his women horsy. Bowen summons up hoary ghosts from the Golden Age--the staggeringly complex paraphernalia required for the murder, the menaced heroine to be rescued, the killer as most unlikely person--with joyous innocence, as if amazed that nobody ever thought of this stuff before, even though the two halves of this story (D.C. and the slammer) never quite come together. Bright and funny, with Badger Game's tiresomely nonstop wit pruned back most attractively. Who says they don't make them like this anymore?

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1990
Publisher: St. Martin's