Hotshot D.C. consultant Kate Boothe gets mixed up with a vast right-wing conspiracy but still manages to eat and travel well.
Using the same formula she employed in The Latest Bombshell (2003), which married chick-lit with a MoveOn.org-style political sensibility, Mitchell produces a readable but so-so follow-up. The boutique political consulting firm run by Kate and her partner Jack scored big in the first book, but lately business has fallen off. So it’s with great relief that they answer a call from the Essex Group, the kind of consortium of wheeling-and-dealing D.C. hotshots that could, for example, negotiate drilling rights off the Japanese coast because one of the partners used to be the prime minister of Japan. Before the reader can ask why Essex would put a rinky-dink firm like theirs on retainer, Kate and Jack are being flown to Paris to meet with the company’s rather frighteningly powerful dons. While there, Kate reconnects with her old buddy, muckraking reporter John Jaures, who’s doing a splashy piece on Essex’s evil ways. (The company has Halliburton-like ties with the Texan in the White House.) Almost immediately afterward, of course, he ends up in the Seine with a bullet in the head. Although it takes a ridiculous amount of time for Kate and Co. to figure out that the Essex boys are bad news, they eventually do and start plotting how to take down the firm from the inside. The thinly disguised caricatures here are easy to place (John McLaughlin, the author’s former CNN co-worker Aaron Brown, et al.), albeit still more cleverly handled than in Jessica Cutler’s The Washingtonienne (2005). And the Beltway insider shtick is already wearing thin, which doesn’t augur well for a third installment.
Mitchell would do well to provide her commendably resourceful heroine with a better plot to navigate.