A new high note is sounded in the latest installment of the longstanding, outstanding, Edgar Awardwinning series; almost in spite of himself, Jimmy Flannery's political star just keeps on rising (The Lion's Share, 1996, etc.). Now, ``they''--the powerbrokers in Chicago's Democratic Party--want their illustrious sewer inspector to run for warlord (committeeman) of the 11th ward. Which is the Mayor's Ward. Which is clearly prestigious. Which is a long and hazardous step out of comfortable obscurity into a world full of public and punishing glare. It's a step fraught with implications. For one thing, it would require Jimmy to resign as committeeman of the hardscrabble 27th, where he knows how to operate for a needy constituency, and where he has never had to ``swallow anything I couldn't swallow.'' The proposition flatters him, but it also makes him undeniably nervous. And not just because of the politics. There's also the thorny alliance Jimmy will be forced into with former Congressman Leo the Lion Lundatos, currently doing 28 months for a series of malfeasances. There's the allure of the dazzlingly beautiful Maggie Lundatos, Leo's wife, who stirs Jimmy in a way that only Mary, his adored, has been able to do until now. Then, too, there's the threat posed by a pair of muscle-bound ex-cons who think broken bones whenever they think of Jimmy. And most unsettling of all, there are the complications resulting from the murder of his lovely friend Mabel Halstead--who used to be his loyal friend Milton Halstead. Was that a hate crime, someone's mindless vendetta against the transgenderized? Or were the bullets that took out Mabel really meant for Jimmy? The famous Campbell dialogue has never been more amiably quirky--or more polished--and as for Jimmy, the once and ever reluctant pol, long may he run.