cover image Saving Grace

Saving Grace

Barbara Rogan. Dutton Books, $19.95 (368pp) ISBN 978-0-525-24963-4

In the political arena, dangers come from unpredictable foes as well as from recognized adversaries, a proposition Rogan ( Cafe Nevo ) vividly illustrates in this tale about basically good people in the grip of ambition and greed. Jonathan Fleishman, once an idealistic civil rights activist and now Democratic leader of a fictional New York City borough, is under investigation by the DA's office for extortion and influence peddling. One of his best friends, Lucas Rayburn, heads the DA's office and another, Michael Kavin, is already prepared to testify against Jonathan. Barnaby, a cocky reporter who's covering the story, sleeps with Fleishman's strong-willed 18-year-old daughter, Grace, in order to get the inside story. Like Jonathan, who refuses to perceive his moral decline and believes he's simply playing the games of politics, Barnaby dismisses criticism that he's breached the boundaries of professional journalism. As Fleishman's life begins to unravel, Grace is sent to Israel and her mother develops a brain tumor. With the disruption of each character's value system comes the realization that good and evil are rarely defined with clarity. In her well-plotted and readable story, Rogan offers discerning comments on friendship, love, marriage and family. But given the novel's premise that there are no simple answers, the conclusion--an epilogue set 18 years later--seems facile. (June)