Case #10 for Boston's Spenser--who made himself a well-deserved reputation with his first four appearances (especially Promised Land) but has been in sketchy, self-indulgent decline ever since. This time, as in A Savage Place and Ceremony, the plot is again a serviceable chestnut: a Moral Majority-style candidate for US Senator is being blackmailed; unless he drops out of the race, videotapes of his drunken, promiscuous wife in sexual action will be made public. Is the blackmailer mobster Joe Broz, who "owns" the incumbent Senator? So it would seem. But Spenser goes to Washington, tracks down the blackmail source (infiltrating an orgy/cocaine setup which involves bored D.C. wives), and cancels out the blackmail threat--after barely surviving a murder attempt. As usual, there are a few funny lines (though fewer than before), one or two nice character-vignettes, some solid action/confrontation, and Parker's easy-reading, minimalist style. Also as usual, there's macho/liberated Spenser's petulant stewing about "romantic love": this time he must Deal With His Feelings when girlfriend Susan moves away temporarily, putting her career first. But while some readers (newcomers especially) will appreciate the quick, sassy, competent narration here, Spenser veterans will continue to be disappointed--by the thin mystery, the undeveloped supporting cast, and the tired, smug portrait of Spenser himself.