Washington Deceased

Wendy Gardner, 19-year-old daughter of a senator serving time at a Maryland minimum security prison, appealingly mixes courage and naivete in this locked-room, politically knowing mystery from the author of Badger Game. Sensing his pending parole may be blocked, Wendy’s father asks her to call in cagey State Department old hand, Richard Michaelson. Then an inmate is killed under the eye of surveillance cameras, leaving the senator prime suspect. Wendy and Michaelson join forces, her foolhardy straightforward instincts balancing his supremely political indirection. Michaelson follows a paper trail through various federal agencies, while a friend, with hilarious believability, engineers an invitation to a key Washington dinner party; meanwhile , Wendy, reading a local gossip paper, comes to her own conclusions and, sacrificing mightily, beards the bad guy in his den. Michaelson, whose laboriously proven resolution seems hole-free, is a bit of a pedant, and Wendy an occasional airhead, but the capricious capital ambiance is captured perfectly. Bowen deserves watching.

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