cover image Witch of Watergate

Witch of Watergate

Warren Adler. Dutton Books, $19.95 (256pp) ISBN 978-1-55611-296-6

Adler's ( War of the Roses ) uneven mystery starts off stridently, as Washington, D.C., detective Fiona FitzGerald, here in her fifth outing, is teamed with cynical rookie Charleen Davis. The two start squabbling just as soon as they are assigned the case of a Washington Post gossip writer whose apparent suicide proves to have been murder. Fiona and Charleen spar over collecting evidence from the late columnist's computer: Charleen wins the first round by enlisting computer-illiterate Fiona's help in spiriting away the hard disks. The disks contain a damning dossier on the D.C. mayor (who happens to be touting Fiona's boss as the next police commissioner) and some damaging information about the Secretary of Defense and his son. Then Fiona and Charleen battle over their differing assessments of the suspects and take turns upstaging each other. The plot is skillfully structured, but the players and the tidy, all's-well-that-ends-well conclusion ring false. (Aug.)