cover image First Lady

First Lady

Edward Gorman, E. J. Gorman. Forge, $23.95 (320pp) ISBN 978-0-312-85777-6

The president's wife makes like Nancy Drew in this contrived thriller from Gorman (The Marilyn Tapes). Neglected by her husband, First Lady Claire Hutton turns to her old friend David Hart for chaste companionship. But David then blackmails her, threatening to go public about their secret meetings and to put a lurid spin on them. What's worse, it turns out that Hart's moves are part of a plot engineered by the Rush Limbaugh-like Knox Stansfield, who has never forgiven Claire for dumping him and marrying Matt Hutton. Stansfield, who has been attacking the Hutton Administration on his radio show, kills David just before Claire arrives for a meeting and then frames the First Lady with an incriminating video--forcing the beleaguered Claire to do some sleuthing in order to save herself. Lurid yet predictable, this narrative winds up reading as if it had been constructed at a Hollywood story meeting; the author's machine-gun prose isn't big on originality, either. Most disappointing, however, is the protagonist, who seems to act as she does not because of her psychological makeup, but because of the box Gorman places her in. This novel is plot-driven with a vengeance, but steered by a routine story line, it doesn't take the reader into any new or exciting territory. (Dec.)