cover image Penance


David Housewright / Author Foul Play Press $21 (295p) ISBN 978

Murder intrudes on a Minnesota political campaign in this first outing for St. Paul PI Holland Taylor. A former cop, Taylor is suspected of murdering a drunk driver who killed his wife and child four years ago. Hunting the murderer to clear his own name, he latches onto the gubernatorial campaign of Carol Catherine ``C.C.'' Monroe, a telegenic legislator whose rise began shortly after the mysterious hit-and-run death of an opponent. Apparently on the verge of upsetting two veteran politicos, Monroe is vulnerable: she once made an intimate videotape with her boyfriend, and now blackmailers may be after her. When a likable young Monroe campaign worker learns something dangerous and pays with her life, Taylor finds himself on a truly sordid trail. Some impressive tough-guy sass emerges from the narrating Taylor, and Housewright, a former newspaper reporter, has an intriguing, darkly pessimistic take on American politics and media. But long monologues and a weakness for preaching bog the story down and, in the end, Taylor is more narcissistic than interesting. (Dec.)