Review: Murder at the Kennedy Center by Margaret Truman

I read this book as part of my immersion into all things political while our Federal election campaign was running (although it looks like I might have peaked early as the two major parties are continuing to campaign, now it’s for the hearts of the minor parties and independent MPs). Thanks to Margot at Confessions of a Mystery novelist for the recommendation.

In Washington DC Senator Ken Ewald looks like he has the nomination for leadership of the Democrats in the bag in the lead up to the next national election. However when a young member of his staff is murdered and his son is among the suspects his campaign is thrown for a loop. Mackensie (Mac) Smith is one of Ewald’s oldest friends and although he is now a law professor he was once a top-notch criminal lawyer and so is called upon to help the Ewalds and defend Ewald’s son should that become necessary.

As I have mentioned before I am a politics junkie. When there is not enough going on in our own political system to demand my full attention I follow politics in other countries, especially the US as I have relatives there and the system is quite different from ours and therefore fascinating to me. Consequently I thoroughly enjoyed the ‘Washington-insider’ aspects of this book. At first I thought it would be one of those where everyone on one side of politics is demonised and everyone on the other side is lauded as near-gods but it turned out, thankfully, to be a lot more subtle than that. The politics of the story quickly come into play when it seems that an exiled South American General and/or his supporters who are all involved with the Republican party might have had something to do with the woman’s murder and this plays out interestingly, although it does get slightly complicated and unbelievable towards the end.

Mac Smith’s girlfriend Annabel and the private detective he employs assist him in investigating the case and all three are good characters who each bring something a bit different to the book. I could have done without Mac and Annabel’s soppy dialogue but there’s not much of it so it was pretty easy to forgive and the rest of the time they are an enjoyable pairing. Tony Buffolino (the private detective) adds a humorous element to the story that I particularly enjoyed.

There are parts of the book that are a bit rambling and I could have done without every meal eaten being described in minute detail, but other than that this is a solid mystery with entertaining characters and is recommended especially to fellow political junkies.

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My rating 3/5

Publisher Ballantine Books [1989]; ISBN 9780449212080; Length 334 pages

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1 Response to Review: Murder at the Kennedy Center by Margaret Truman

  1. Bernadette – Thanks for this review – and for the “shout-out”. I’m glad you mostly enjoyed this book. I was actually intrigued, too, by the “inside-politics” aspects of it; in fact, that was one of the better-done elements, in my opinion. I had to laugh when you mentioned some of the dialogue between Mac and Annabel; I noticed that, too. And the meals. But it does turn out to be a pretty intriguing story, and I’m glad I’m not the only one who thought so : ).


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