Far too many characters mar what could have been an engrossing story of a ruthless presidential campaign.
The upcoming election, year unspecified, in Mortman's latest (True Colors, 1995, etc.) might just as well be a reunion of the Yale Law School, class of 1960-something. Everyone here is, rather improbably, either a former classmate, related by blood, marriage, oreven less likelythe former lover of at least two other characters. Even the twin protagonists, foreign-policy expert Zoë Vaughn and Democratic presidential candidate Ben Knight, were college lovers at Harvard; a series of misunderstandings led to their breakup and Ben's marriage to Felicia, a relative of Zoë's best friend, the TV journalist Celia Porter. Now Felicia is dead (thanks to a car accident) and Ben wants Zoë to join his campaign: Trouble with the former Soviet Union and a kidnapping plot (which is almost as confusing as the character list) require a foreign policy expert with a firm touch, and Zoë's the tops. Meanwhile, popular Texas congresswoman and die-hard party supporter Georgie Hughes (a younger version of Ann Richards) is working for the Republican candidate Scottie Edwards; she's also part of an old circle of friends that includes Zoë, Celia, Ben, and Kate Siegel. Kate is the grassroots founder of a popular organization called NOMORE, formed to keep people who've committed crimes against children in prisonand, as such, a valuable asset to any campaign. Zoë is determined to help Ben as best she can and, of course, would love to see Edwards lose. She's not quite prepared, however, for the rekindling of old flames.
Fortunately for some, miserably for others, the past comes back to haunt just about everyone in this character- and subplot- packed book. A little pruning would serve Mortman well in the future.