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WHO’S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA HAM? by Phyllis Richman

WHO’S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA HAM?

By Phyllis Richman

Pub Date: May 3rd, 2001
ISBN: 0-06-018389-6
Publisher: HarperCollins

No doubt about it: Ringo Laurenge, the Washington Examiner’ s new business reporter, is having a corrosive effect on the once-collegial newsroom. Financial desk veteran Vince Davis, the first to smell a rat, watched Ringo massage his Rolodex and, using his business beat as an excuse—after all, every restaurant, theater, and government office is also a business—horn in on everyone else’s turf. Restaurant critic Chas Wheatley (Murder on the Gravy Train, 1999, etc.) feels the pinch when Ringo gets editor-in-chief Bull Stannard’s approval to fly to L.A. for a story on the $300 prix fixe dinners at Ginza Sushiko. A Prince George’s County reporter named Linda gets skunked when she lets Ringo work with her on a story about the culture of crime, which he then takes—solo, of course—on the television circuit, leaving Linda to deal with their disgruntled sources. Even Dave Zeeger, Chas’s live-in, whose initial backing of Ringo threatens their domestic tranquility, ends up getting scooped by his new colleague. But with Chas’s best friend, Sherele Travis, Ringo’s affront isn’t professional but personal: Feigning a postprandial drunken stupor, he lures her to his apartment and tries to assault her. So it's no surprise that when, at long last, Ringo keels over dead during the Examiner’s pre-Thanksgiving feast, Sherele’s the one the police zero in on.

Richman’s prose is as sharp as ever, but like a novice waiter, she draws out the appetizer interminably, then presents the main course, the dessert, and the check only minutes before closing time.