LUTHER WHITNEY HAD BEEN CAUGHT before and served long stretches in jail, but this time he has done his homework. The 66-year-old burglar easily breaks into the mansion of a Virginia billionaire and locates the vault behind a full-length mirror in the master bedroom. Luther is in there when he suddenly hears voices downstairs and draws the vault door shut. When the bedroom lights flick on, Luther discovers, to his amazement, that the door is a one-way mirror allowing an unobstructed view of the boudoir.
What Luther sees through the glass darkly—a grisly murder—sets the machinery of this first-rate thriller in gear. Everyone in Washington, it seems, is drawn into the cover up, from Luther's crusading daughter and her ex-public defender-boyfriend to the President himself. In his debut, lawyer-turned-novelist Baldacci cuts everyone's grass—Grisham's, Ludlum's, even Patricia Cornwall's—and more than gets away with it. (Warner $22.95)