In this entertaining fiction debut, journalist Feinstein Hard Courts displays a gritty knowledge of the political scene. When Washington Herald reporter Bobby Kelleher investigates the assassination of Maryland governor Barney Paulsen, he initially wonders whether Jamelle Touretta, leader of the radical Females for Freedom, may have engineered the murder so that a woman, Lt. Gov. Meredith Gordy, could take power. But then Kelleher discovers that right-wing whacko Jimmy Dumont was also present at the scene of the shooting. Kelleher locates Dumont, whom he had known during their college days, but is nearly killed in the confrontation. Soon after, Dumont, who is connected to an extreme pro-life group, is reported dead. Urged by his publishers to keep ahead of the competition, Kelleher is aided by his young partner Maureen McGuire and by Gordy, who is worried by her top aide's friendship with Touretta. Kelleher finally links the feminist leader with Dumont, although ferreting out proof of the alliance of feminists and pro-lifers often puts him in mortal danger. A strong, surprising resolution caps this thriller that delivers on its promise despite its protagonist's occasionally larger-than-life heroism and incredible luck. Apr.