Damage Control by Michael Bowen
A Josie Kendall Mystery (Josie Kendall Mysteries)

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The high-speed exposition leads to a brightly disillusioned tour of D.C. institutions that shine more vividly than the people who represent them in Bowen’s ebullient antidote to election-season blues.
-Kirkus

Synopsis

When shadowy gray market hustler and aspiring crony capitalist Jerzy Schroeder is murdered while Josie Kendall is hitting him up for a million dollars to help him cash in on alternative energy funding, the police suspect her of adultery and her husband, Rafe, of homicide. Josie, who works for Majority Values Coalition, an "activist fundraising organization,” is a new but passionate DC player. Suave Rafe, long a Washington insider, also a long a widower, is passionate about Josie. He’s on a new track as a literary agent and supporting Josie’s how-Washington-works learning curve.

For Josie and Rafe, this isn't a murder investigation but a political damage-control problem. They attack the issue with an array of finely tuned skills: strategic leaks, manipulation of the media, judicious use of inside information, and a flexible attitude toward the truth―plus the assistance of Josie's Uncle Darius, a veteran spin doctor with surprising connections, who―luckily―is out on parole.

They'll need a full arsenal, since, as one capital insider points out, "A damage control strategy that hasn't succeeded within thirty days has failed." Along the way, Josie, juggling plot lines, will have to decide whether there are ethical lines that even she won't cross.

A proposal from Schroeder's ex-wife, Ann DeHoin, known as “The Gray Lady,” thanks to her wardrobe, shows Josie that she was (and probably still is) being gamed. To what end? The priority here is to figure out what the game is before the body count rises, while staying on mission at MVC, which gets money from people committed to a cause, spends part of it promoting that cause through channels like running ads, and keeps the rest.

In this contemporary House of Cards scenario, determining who actually murdered Schroeder is a low-priority problem but Josie manages to do that as well. It's all in a day's (well, thirty days') work.
 

About Michael Bowen

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Mike Bowen, a trial lawyer practicing in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, is the author of numerous mystery novels, including Screenscam (2002), which introduced Rep and Melissa Pennyworth. Bowen has been a member and moderator of panels at several Bouchercons and has made presentations at numerous other mystery-related events. He wrote the entry on The American Legal System for the Oxford Companion to Crime and Mystery Writing, and was a member of the panels that selected the winner of the 1995 Edgar Award for Best Mystery and the 1996 Edgar Award for Best Critical or Biographical Work. Bowen graduated cum laude from Harvard Law School in 1976. While at Harvard, he served on the Board of Editors of the Harvard Law Review, and was a member of the winning team and was named the best oralist in the Ames Competition (moot court). Bowen lives with his wife, Sara Armbruster Bowen and their younger children, John, Marguerite and James, in Fox Point, a suburb of Milwaukee.
 
Published August 2, 2016 by Poisoned Pen Press. 264 pages
Genres: Crafts, Hobbies & Home, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Literature & Fiction, Political & Social Sciences. Fiction
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Kirkus

Above average
on May 17 2016

The high-speed exposition leads to a brightly disillusioned tour of D.C. institutions that shine more vividly than the people who represent them in Bowen’s ebullient antidote to election-season blues.

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