Bowen, who knows a thing or two about how the sausage is made (Service Dress Blues, 2009, etc.), follows 30 tumultuous days in the life of a Washington fundraiser who’s been put on the spot.
Why are the Maryland police interested in Josephine Robideaux Kendall, of the Majority Values Coalition? Let us count the reasons. She’d been trying to raise a million dollars from crony capitalist Jerzy Schroeder when he was shot. She’d had a fling with her potential client, something both the cops and her husband, literary agent/consultant/navigator Raphael Kendall, take for granted, though neither knows for certain. And she’d been standing 4 feet from Schroeder when he shifted from vertical to horizontal. Sniffing an affair they can’t prove, the cops suspect first Josie, then Rafe, and it’s clear that the pair need to work together on a strategy for damage control, extricating themselves from the embrace of law enforcement and incidentally finding some way of replacing the fat fee Schroeder would have brought MVC. The first and apparently more consequential of these activities is no more than workmanlike, but the second is consistently delightful. Bowen lovingly details the process by which Josie seeks to peddle MVC’s donor file on Schroeder to his ex-wife, Ann DeHoic, who’s every bit as cagey as Josie, and her inspired long-term plan for capitalizing on an attempted burglary at the MVC office by launching a YouTube video designed to entice a most unlikely client.
The high-speed exposition leads to a brightly disillusioned tour of D.C. institutions that shine more vividly than the people who represent them in Bowen’s ebullient antidote to election-season blues.