Friday, September 17, 2010

Stranglehold -- Ed Gorman

A couple of years ago, I reviewed Ed Gorman's Sleeping Dogs, a crime novel about political consultant Dev Conrad. I commented at the beginning of the review that I seemed to be reviewing the same books as James Reasoner at about the same time and that I often seemed to feel the same way about the books. Well, here we go again.

This time Dev's firm is working for Natalie Byrnes on the campaign of Susan Cooper, Natalie's stepdaughter. Susan's running for reelection to congress, and she's been behaving strangely. Dev's associates call him for help, and when he starts looking into things, he discovers a tangled mess of family secrets that are likely to hurt his client's chances. This could happen to any consultant, I guess, but then people start getting murdered. Something like that can really liven up a campaign.

Stranglehold is cynical about politics and the political process, and it's full of pathetic characters. But it's also very funny at times. Dev's a decent guy who's trying to make a living while working with people who are, shall we say, a bit less than decent. His observations have a lot of bite, and the depressing thing is that they're probably accurate. This isn't the kind of book that's going to make you feel any better about the campaigns that are going on all around us right now, but it's bracing entertainment just the same. Gorman's writing is, as usual, clear, concise, and trenchant. Don't miss this one.

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