My Mystery Monday Meme offering for today is Margaret Truman’s Internship in Murder by Donald Bain. I was quite excited when I found this newly released book online as I have most of the Margaret Truman books in her Capital Crimes series and was not expecting any more after her death in 2008. (Donald Bain explains his relationship with Truman and her books on his blog site; you have to scroll down quite a bit to find it.) As with the Murder She Wrote series, which is “co-authored” by Jessica Fletcher, Bain includes Truman’s name in the title even though she is no longer with us. He has released three others prior to this novel, and is working on the next one in the series.
Internship in Murder is a fast-paced, sophisticated novel dealing with the political, social, and seamier sides of Washington, D.C. and environs. This adventure revolves around politically ambitious, philandering congressman Hal Gannon from Tampa, Fl., who is so morally bankrupt that he hardly hesitates before seducing the twenty-two-year-old intern, Laura Bennett, daughter of a good friend and supporter, Lucas Bennett. This complicates his Washington life in several ways: he has two other bedroom partners he’s juggling, a wife and kids in Tampa, and Laura is naive enough to think there’s a future with her hero politician who she sees as being in the White House one day, and not just as a visitor.
When Laura’s contacts with her family and friends cease, Luke and Grace, get in touch with their good friend, lawyer Mackensie (Mac) Smith, and ask him to see if he can come up with some answers as to her disappearance. Sharing Mac’s office space but with a separate entrance is P.I. Robert Brixton who knows what it’s like to lose a daughter; his was killed in front of him by a terrorist bomb and he almost lost his life tracking down the people behind the attack. The more Brixton digs, the more Congressman Gannon looks good for what eventually proves to be Laura’s murder. While there is no hard evidence, the motive to silence a partner with too many expectations becomes only too clear as more and more people come forward to confirm that the congressman and the intern had a sexual relationship, and Gannon and his chief of staff stonewall Brixton, the police, and the Bennetts under a thinly veiled guise of cooperation.
One by one, other players enter the plot on various planes to expose the very complicated and sinister ways in which politics and murder merge. Another murder from the congressman’s staff and an attempt on Brixton’s life bring the tension to a higher pitch and hardly anyone is who s/he seems to be.
This novel is full of highlights of well-known sites in D.C. — restaurants, hotels, cemeteries, places to meet a “deep throat”, galleries, and art venues — and adds to the veracity of the story and the readers’ enjoyment. (Did you know that the term “lobbyist” was coined at the Willard hotel, a block from the White House where people “wanting something from the government hung around the opulent rococo lobby hoping to catch the attention of government movers and shakers . . . to plead their cases”?) There are lots of interesting tidbits, complex characters, and hold-your-breath suspense moments in this gritty mystery story set in the U.S. capital. My only complaint is that I had it figured out quite a bit before the end. I’m like that though. * * * *