Monday, November 01, 2010
The Wall Street Journal Reviews Stranglehold
From The Wall Street Journal
Dirty Politics, Deadly Games
By TOM NOLAN
What's worrying the Illinois congresswoman? That's the question vexing political consultant Dev Conrad, the protagonist-narrator of Ed Gorman's engaging political mystery "Stranglehold" (Minotaur, 211 pages, $24.99).
Instead of stepping up the tempo in the final days of a too-close-for-comfort election campaign, Rep. Susan Cooper is unfocused, secretive and often absent-without-explanation. Conrad, a former Army intelligence man who carries a Glock in his rental-car's glove compartment, goes into investigative mode, shadowing his own client through her private life for the sake of her (and his) career.
He finds that he is not the only one probing into the congresswoman's present and past. One step ahead of him is a ruthless duo specializing in "opposition research": digging up toxic dirt on political candidates.
"Elections are a contact sport," Conrad acknowledges, and in his trade "there are no saints . . . just degrees of sinners." But the game turns fatal when one of these rival snoops is murdered. Now the congresswoman's re-election race is a matter of life and death.
Mr. Gorman, the author of more than 30 books, tells his fast-paced story with a minimum of stylistic fuss; but he doesn't fail to indicate the selfish motives propelling certain public "servants" and the economic and social pain often suffered by the citizens so "served." The author uses an observation by Thomas Jefferson as the novel's headnote: "Whenever a man has cast a longing eye on offices, a rottenness begins in his conduct." The most frightening revelations in "Stranglehold" may be the unseemly truths it seems to tell about the status quo of our electoral process.
(Ed here: Thanks to Brendan Dubois for sending me the link to the review)