Walt Hatcher is a bigoted veteran detective who constantly insults his co-workers. He lies to his wife, leans on witnesses and shouts so-called apologies. Hatch is a misfit in a modern police department and is in dire need of a crash course in sensitivity, but he gets the job done.
He is assigned to investigate the murder of a DC call girl, and during the crime scene search, one of his team discovers a video camera hidden in a bookcase. The client list discovered on the tapes becomes the focus of the inquiries, made all the more intriguing because a bloody presidential campaign is underway.
When the daughter of a campaign strategist is kidnapped before the murder case is solved, political machinations move into high gear. It’s hard to tell who wins the prize for ‘slimebag of the year’ after a connection is made between the kidnapping and the murder.
Other characters predominate the second half of the book, but Hatcher’s actions play heavily in the outcome of both cases. Readers anticipating Truman’s famous surprise endings will not be disappointed.
Throughout the ‘Capital Crimes’ series, Truman brought her main characters to life by sharing the thoughts of each one. Realistic dialogue that followed the internal processing made her books flow effortlessly, as if we were in the rooms living the scenes. We cheered for the nice guys, however lightly flawed, and hissed at the bad guys as they were quite cleverly dispatched. The novels became grittier with time, but never reached ‘Adults Only’ status.
When Margaret Truman was a junior in college, her father, Harry, became the President of the U.S. Years later, she began writing the Capital Crimes series, all set in DC. Truman had a love-hate relationship with her experiences at the White House, but she captivated readers with the details of the Washington that she knew so well. The Adams-Morgan residential section of the city and the Mall (a tourist favorite, with museums surrounding a park setting) are featured in “Murder Inside the Beltway,” the 24th and final title of the bestselling series.
Memorable titles in the series include:
“Murder at the National Gallery” – M. Scott Pims is a scheming art curator with a masterful plan involving the Gallery.
“Murder at the National Cathedral” – Mac and Annabel Smith are a husband and wife team sleuthing among the stained glass and pillars of the National Cathedral.
“Murder at the Smithsonian” – a showdown with a surprise murderer occurs in The Museum of American History.
Margaret Truman passed away in 2008, but her legacy lives on in her work. Having visited and enjoyed Washington, D.C. dozens of times myself, it was great fun to be able to revisit the famous places she mentioned and imagine the mayhem among the corridors and columns of our nation’s capital.