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Murder in Foggy Bottom

(Book 17 in the Margaret Truman's Capital Crimes series)
A novel by

Our Review
The President's Daughter Delivers
Nothing's more difficult for a writer than sustaining a long-running series. Sooner or later, except to the most dedicated, a series begin to pall. I even got tired of Nero Wolfe after 30 books.

One of the few people who has beaten the rap is Ed McBain. He's done it through sheer cleverness. McBain is the best plotter and bamboozlement artist of his generation -- and a damned fine writer, too.

Margaret Truman has figured out a different way to do it. Using her unique perspective as the daughter of a former President of The United States, good old Harry S. himself, she uses each of her mystery novels to show us a different part of Washington, D.C.

Among other places, her mysteries have taken us to the Pentagon, the CIA, the Supreme Court, and the White House itself. No way can a series go stale when you're constantly shifting scenes so radically each time out. And doing so in such an amiably readable way.

The Truman books are always fun and, even more, enlightening. You'll know a whole lot more about a particular Washington, D.C. institution once you've read a Truman mystery. Truman tells you how the interesting stuff works. And that's always a treat. The basic story here revolves around the crash of several airplanes that were pretty clearly sabotaged: the ultimate nightmare scenario. Several government agencies have to move fast to find the killers. They have no idea how complicated -- and dangerous -- their search will get.

In this book, we not only tour Foggy Bottom -- where the State Department is located -- we also get inside looks at Moscow, an airliner in desperate trouble, and the makeup of a ruthless far-right terrorist group. And none of this is slapdash, either. Truman's characters -- a huge cast this time out -- work as real people, and the information she gives us is always at least as dazzling as the plot itself. Her detailed analysis of the professions combating terrorism would be enough to satisfy most readers. But she gives us a lot more, including a glimpse of genuine undercover work and an engaging romance.

About this point, I always reach for a superlative. And this book deserves two or even three of them. Murder in Foggy Bottom is proof that a series doesn't have to go stale if you've got an innovative and tireless creator behind the word processor.

A genuine beach reading treat.

--Ed Gorman

Genre: Mystery

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