by David Baldacci

Page-turner of the week

Former trial lawyer Baldacci knows how to freshen a suspense novel's usual cast of characters. In Absolute Power a cat burglar plays good guy after witnessing a crime by the President. In Total Control a widow learns that the law-abiding husband she lost in an air crash is not only still alive but responsible for the disaster. This time the author gives us something truly astonishing: a Washington lobbyist with a heart of gold.

Faith Lockhart wants to tell the FBI her story: She and her lobbyist boss have bribed senators and congressmen with their own money in the service of a greater good. After a lifetime of trying to win congressional favors for elite corporations, the pair now want to help the world's poor by fostering laws that offer vaccinations and other aid to needy countries. But an America-first archconservative at the CIA is on to their scheme. After an FBI agent is slain and Faith goes on the run, the plot whirls into an interagency battle that spotlights the worst—and some of the best—about the folks who inhabit the nation's capital. Although he's the king of the Beltway potboiler, Baldacci takes his time turning up the heat of this slow-building caper. But once the plot is warmed, it bubbles away in fine style. (Warner, $26.95)

Bottom Line: Master storyteller keeps the faith

  • Contributors:
  • Ralph Novak,
  • J.D. Reed,
  • Rob Stout,
  • Nick Charles,
  • Jean Reynolds.