Minutes before Henry Luttwalk is slated for lethal injection by the US government, somebody (who, how, why?) poisons him. Veteran insider Richard Michaelson (Fielder's Choice, p. 633, etc.) is asked by the President's staff to conduct a discreet investigation--even as uppity reporter Ginny McNaghten, a witness to the execution that wasn't, plots another investigation a little more public, and Ken Dahl, an empty-headed TV newscaster, gets sicked on an apparently unrelated story: a payoff that the Japanese robotics firm of Ohatsu, Ltd., claims it's been asked to make to ease its entry into the American market. It'll take Michaelson, McNaghten, and, yes, even vapid Ken to find the connections among the gratuitous murder, the payoff, an intricate scheme for computerized vote-counting fraud, and a sting operation engineered by a satisfyingly obvious free-lancer. Not as wacky (or cutesy) as Bowen's earlier mysteries, but still effervescent enough to make you forget how hard the puzzle's making you work.