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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.



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