Bain (Trouble at High Tide and 36 other Murder She Wrote mysteries) channels the late Margaret Truman in the 26th Capital Crimes novel (after 2011’s Monument to Murder). The hit-and-run death in Washington, D.C., of psychiatrist Mark Sedgwick is the opening salvo in an operation led by a rogue CIA agent and a San Francisco psychiatrist, who aim to use a psychologically programmed assassin to kill liberal presidential candidate Sen. George Mortinson. Dr. Nicolas Tatum, who teaches a seminar on evaluating human behavior at George Washington Law School, fingers one of Sedgwick’s patients as the programmed assassin, to his peril. Series regulars Mackenzie Smith and his wife, Annabel Lee-Smith, serve as mere observers and advisers. Bain gets mileage from the many government-funded mind control experiments, conspiracy theories, and big money politics. Political junkies of all stripes should find something to feed their appetites, though cynics will probably be most rewarded. Agent: Bob Diforio, D4EO Literary. (Nov.)
Bain, longtime ghostwriter to TV sleuth Jessica Fletcher (Murder, She Wrote: Domestic Malice, 2012, etc.), emerges from the shadows to tell how the hit-and-run murder of a D.C. psychiatrist leads a clinical psychologist to a vast CIA-funded brainwashing project in this Margaret Truman Capital Crimes novel. Every morning, Dr. Mark Sedgwick walks across Virginia Avenue from his apartment on one side of the busy street to his office on the other. One morning, a woman in a white car takes deadly aim and runs him down. The Metro Police Department traces the car to Sheila Klaus, who just happens to be a patient of Dr. Sedgwick's. Betty Martinez, Dr. Sedgwick's receptionist, reluctantly reveals that the psychiatrist took his patient on several trips to the Lightpath Psychiatric Clinic in San Francisco. But, his companion was ticketed as Carla Rasmussen. Sheila's insistence that she knows nothing about Lightpath, Carla or Sedgwick's death rings so true to Dr. Nicholas Tatum, a psychologist who works part time at the MPD's Criminal Behavior Unit, that he convinces his friend, attorney Mackensie Smith (Monument to Murder, 2011, etc.), to represent her. Nic sees Sheila as a "Dionysian"--a highly suggestible hypnotic subject--and suspects Lightpath's director, Dr. Sheldon Borger, of using her to kill Sedgwick. But Borger has still bigger fish to fry. Working with funding provided through CIA operative Colin Landow, Borger recruits Iskander Itani, a Lebanese boxer with chronic pain and a grudge against Israelis. Under the guise of curing his headaches, the hypnotherapist grooms Itani to assassinate presidential contender George Mortinson, whose progressive agenda annoys Borger. Whether Nic can connect the dots from Sedgwick to Borger to Itani is nobody's guess. What starts as a pedestrian accident ends up as pedestrian storytelling that not even a CIA-sponsored, hypnotically induced, politically motivated murder can jazz up.