Murder on K Street (Capital Crimes Series #23)

Murder on K Street (Capital Crimes Series #23)

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Overview

Nobody knows the crooked turns, slippery slopes, and dark, dangerous stretches of the Beltway better than Margaret Truman, dean of the Washington, D.C., mystery scene. And no one is better equipped to lead a suspenseful tour into the treacherous territory of big-time political lobbying, where the right information and enough influence can buy power–the kind that corrupts . . . and sometimes kills.

Arriving home from a fund-raising dinner, senior Illinois senator Lyle Simmons discovers his wife’s brutally bludgeoned body. And like any savvy politician with presidential aspirations, his first move is to phone his attorney. In this case, it’s his old friend and college roommate, former DA Philip Rotondi, who gamely agrees to step out of quiet retirement and into the thick of a D.C.-style political, criminal, and public relations maelstrom from which no one will escape unscathed.

The crime scene is barely cold when the senator’s estranged daughter arrives hurling shocking allegations of murder at her father, despite a roomful of well-heeled witnesses who can provide Simmons with an alibi. Meanwhile, D.C.’s rumor mills and spin machines shift into high gear as speculation swirls around a tabloid- and TV-ready prime suspect: Jonell Marbury, a dashing lawyer turned lobbyist at a powerful K Street firm–and the last person to see the victim alive. But Rotondi harbors his own unsettling suspicions.

And after a second woman is killed, he discovers that a long-buried secret from his past may hold the key to cracking the case.

Aided by sleuthing ex-attorneys Mac and Annabel Smith, Rotondi reawakens the prosecutorial skills that served him so well in his gang-busting days, following the stench of dirty money and dirtier tricks across the country and across the thresholds of back rooms and front offices alike–where doing the right thing is for fools and taking on the system is a dead man’s gambit.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781501298066
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
Publication date: 08/25/2015
Series: Capital Crimes Series , #23
Edition description: Unabridged
Product dimensions: 5.25(w) x 6.75(h) x 0.50(d)

About the Author

MARGARET TRUMAN (1924-2008) won faithful readers with her works of biography and fiction, particularly her ongoing series of Capital Crimes mysteries. She was the author of many nonfiction books, including The President’s House, in which she shared some of the secrets and history of the White House, where she once resided. She passed away on January 29, 2008.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1


Washington smells good in springtime. The air is fresh and pure. The sweet scent of cherry blossoms is carried by gentle breezes from the Potomac and Chesapeake Bay, lifting spirits and promising renewal. Until . . .

Until spring fades to summer, turning the nation's capital into a domed stadium that traps the heat and humidity—as well as the stench of whatever political scandal might linger from the winter—and releasing foul vapors from the swamp on which the city is built, stinging the nostrils and eyes and erasing memories of springtime.

This was one of those summer nights in Washington, D.C.

The greenish, putrid outside air could be seen through the windows of the Mayflower Hotel's Colonial Room, where in air-conditioned comfort Illinois senior senator Lyle Simmons was winding up. Simmons was a speechwriter's dream: He was comfortable using the humorous asides sprinkled throughout his prepared text, delivering them as though they were impromptu. He had Johnny Carson's body language down to a T, and had mastered some of Jack Benny's timing. Add to those techniques the widest, most engaging smile in the U.S. Senate, which he displayed with ruthless precision; his imposing height (two inches over six feet); a rich baritone voice; a full head of gray hair made less so with judicious use of darkening highlights; and a bespoke wardrobe, mostly from London, that draped nicely over his lean frame; and you had a potent package. His detractors and off-the-record colleagues felt that he talked too much, giving the impression that he was more comfortable speaking than listening—on-the-record journalists had occasionally used such terms as motormouth and blowhard—but most members of the press were kind: He worked hard at cultivating media approval, and reporters knew that for the most part, they would get the straight scoop from him. For the most part.

He stepped down from the podium and was faced with dozens of outstretched hands and eager voices. "Great speech, Senator," someone said. "Keep telling it like it is."

Simmons's chief of staff, Alan McBride, flanked the senator on one side, his press secretary, Peter Markowicz, the other, as they slowly navigated through knots of the faithful toward the room's exit. One of many lobbyists in attendance stopped Simmons, grabbed his hand, slapped him on the back lightly, and said into his ear, "You know what I'm waiting for, Senator?"

"What's that, Bruce?"

"The day when I don't have to call you Senator Simmons anymore."

"What?" Simmons said, adopting an exaggerated frown.

"I'm looking forward to when I can call you President Simmons."

Simmons's grin returned. "Not too loud, Bruce. Some blogger might think I'm running."

Bruce stayed close to the senator's ear as they continued toward the door. "Truman declared his candidacy right here in this hotel," he said. "Stayed here, too, for the first few months of his presidency." Closer to the ear now, and sotto voce. "I need time with you about the prescription bill."

"Call Alan tomorrow," Simmons said, breaking away from the lobbyist to greet others, his aides in lockstep.

They reached the Grande Promenade, the expansive lobby through which a Who's Who of political heavyweights had passed since the Mayflower opened in 1925: Truman; before him, FDR, who lived there pre-inaugural and who wrote his famous "We have nothing to fear but fear itself" speech while in Suite 776; and the FBI's J. Edgar Hoover, who ate lunch at the hotel every day for more than twenty years, his daily menu choices never varying and considerably more bland than his personality—buttered toast, cottage cheese, grapefruit, salad, and chicken soup.

Simmons's final stop before reaching Connecticut Avenue was to greet a Senate colleague coming from the CafeŽ Promenade with his wife and daughter. "How did it go?" he was asked.

"Couldn't have gone better. Enjoy dinner?"

"The seafood buffet was superb," replied his wife.

"You two take care," Simmons said. "See you tomorrow."

Standing at the hotel's doors was McTeague. He'd been Senator Simmons's driver and bodyguard since Simmons had arrived in Washington years ago as a freshman member of the House of Representatives. A car and driver spoke of the family fortune that had been behind Simmons's successful run for Congress. There would be no scrambling to find inexpensive temporary housing, as many members of the House needed to do. Simmons and his bride had immediately purchased a three-story town house on the outskirts of Georgetown, where they quickly established themselves as frequent, lavish party-givers when Congress was in session. During his fourth term, they sold the house at a handsome profit and bought a sprawling, hilltop Georgian colonial in the Foxhall section, with sweeping views of the city. After almost a million dollars in renovations and additions, it had become a proper home for the congressman who would become the senator from Illinois.

Walter McTeague was a large man with a ruddy, puffy face and a nest of small gray curls atop his head. He wore what he always wore while on duty—black suit, black shoes, black tie, and white shirt. He saw Simmons and his aides approaching, and pulled in his stomach and stood taller. Simmons dispatched McBride and Markowicz: "We've got that seven o'clock meeting on staffing. And don't forget to tell Chris Matthews or his producer that I want a more comfortable chair the next time I'm on."

He watched them greet McTeague and disappear through the outer doors.

"Hello, Walter," Simmons told his driver. "Sorry to have kept you. It ran longer than I anticipated."

"No problem, Senator," McTeague replied in a husky voice. Simmons knew that the former D.C. cop was a heavy smoker, which was all right as long as he didn't foul the air in the four-door black Mercedes, or in the house while waiting for him.

McTeague had left the Mercedes running to keep the interior cool.

"Hot as Hades," Simmons muttered as they stepped out onto Connecticut Avenue. "Washington should have thought of that when he decided to plop the nation's capital here."

McTeague laughed as he opened one of the rear doors and the senator climbed in.

"Home?" McTeague asked after he'd settled behind the wheel.

"As fast as possible. Put on the news."

Simmons leaned back against the leather seat, closed his eyes, and took in what the WTOP radio guy said. News but no news. Nothing earth shattering, nothing directly affecting him. But he silently reminded himself that if he did seek his party's nomination for president, everything would affect him, every niggling little incident across the nation and the world. Was it worth it? He was too tired at the moment to try answering that question.

They pulled into the long, circular driveway and came to a stop by the front door. Sensors picking up their arrival had activated a battery of halogen outdoor fixtures that bathed the front of the house in harsh white light.

"What's the schedule for tomorrow?" McTeague asked, turning on an interior light and twisting to face the senator.

"I have to be at the Capitol by ten to seven."

"Mind a personal comment, sir?"

"When have I ever minded a personal comment from you, Walter? Shoot."

"You're looking tired these days, sir. So is Mrs. Simmons. I saw her today when I delivered the dry cleaning. You and the wife ought to get away for a while. Rest up."

Simmons smiled, leaned forward, and patted McTeague's arm. "I'm sure Jeannette would agree with you wholeheartedly. I'll mention it to her."

McTeague came around, opened the rear door, and escorted Simmons up a set of wide marble steps. Simmons had given up trying to dissuade him from doing that; the former cop took his job seriously, both as driver and as protector. He was armed, his Glock nestled in a holster beneath his left armpit.

"Go on home," Simmons said. "Best to your wife. Sorry for the early start these mornings."

"Not a problem, Senator. You have a good night."

Simmons watched the burly McTeague drive off. He was happy to have the man. Wealthy members of Congress, such as himself, were able to provide and pay for their own personal security and transportation. Others were on their own.

He looked up at thousands of gnats and other nocturnal insects swarming around the halogens. Constituents looking for favors, he thought. Staring directly at the lights blinded him momentarily, and he shifted his gaze to the massive set of doors leading into the house.

He drew a breath, inserted his key, and pushed open one of the doors. The marble foyer, larger than the first floor of most people's tract houses, was dark; a chandelier at the top of a winding staircase cast a modicum of yellow light. He closed the door behind him. He didn't bother looking at the alarm system's keypad, because he knew the alarm hadn't been activated. Jeannette seldom had it on when she was home, especially at night.

"What good is a security system if you don't use it?" he'd asked her repeatedly.

"Let the bogeyman in," she had said defiantly. It was the alcohol talking, he knew. Too many alcohol-fueled words lately.

He thought he heard something. "Jeannette?"

There was no reply.

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Murder on K Street (Capital Crimes Series #23) 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 16 reviews.
SDgrandma More than 1 year ago
I thought this would complete my collection of the "Washington" Mystery Series, but find there is one more. These books are always well organized. With her knowledge of the Washington scene, I appreciate her references in many books to historical and/or little remembered events that are pertinent to the story to provide additional background to her characters. I have always liked a central character carried through a series - Mac and Annabel Smith are smart, down-to-earth, and people it would be nice to know. But also, they do not carry the whole story - other characters are intertwined with them - they bring consistency to the story line. She develops her characters well but still doesn't give away the ending until the ending.
tututhefirst on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Another good solid mystery by one of my favorite mystery writers. Having lived in the DC area for over 15 years, I enjoy these stories. While the premise may be a tad farfetched, I listened to pompous politicians on the evening news for enough years to know that it's not out of the realm of possibility.Senator Lyle Simmons's wife is found murdered insider their Georgetown home. The senator, who is about to run for president, seems more concerned with his image than in finding the killer. His two children, a wimpy son who is president of a lobbying firm, and his politically active (on the opposite side of her father) daughter, are devastated.Add a best friend who was in the love with the wife, some questionably legal doings by the lobbying firm, throw in another murder and it makes for a good who-dunnit. Nothing extravagant, but it was a good easy read while I was on vacation.
phoenixcomet on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
First time I've read a Philip Rotondi book. Decent, quick read, nothing exceptionally stimulating.
Kathy89 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Murder of a senator's wife reveals secrets and coverups. Arrogant Senator has a wife who drinks. a weak son who works for a corrupt lobbying firm, and a hippie daughter. Wife confides in an old friend from college that the senator is having an affair and someone has sent her pictures to prove it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Good read!!!
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GailCooke More than 1 year ago
This is Truman's 23rd Capital Crimes novel so one may perhaps forgive her for offering what seemed to this listener to be a retreaded material. There's little to surprise in the story line but pleasure to be found in the reading by actor/director/producer Phil Gigante. His voice is deep, resonant, falls easily upon ears as he moves easily between characters. Our story opens with senior Senator Lyle Simmons returning home after a fundraiser. His homecoming is a shocking one as he finds his wife, Jeanette, brutally murdered. Does he call 911? Of course, not. He immediately contacts his friend and attorney, former District Attorney Philip Rotondi. After all, Simmons has presidential aspirations, and a murdered wife isn't an asset in most campaigns. Rotondi lost Jeanette to Simmons during college years and also knows that the Simmons marriage, well, while it may have been made in heaven, it was hell on earth. Now, toss in a daughter with no love for dear old dad Simmons and a passel of devious lobbyists at work, and there you have it. Easy listening - fair to middlin' story line. - Gail Cooke
FootballRN More than 1 year ago
Another good mystery in the Capitol Crimes series. Interesting characters. Twisting plots. Good read.
ErmaM More than 1 year ago
I enjoy Margaret Truman's style. It's an easy read with which to escape. Her characters are individual and the story moves. It's a nice "cozy."
lucayaKC More than 1 year ago
Characters and plot are well developed.
harstan More than 1 year ago
U.S. Senator Lyle Simmons is considered by the pundits as one of the leading candidates for president. However, he soon has a different problem outside of politics to deal with when he comes home following a fundraiser. His wife Jeanette lies on the floor of their foyer someone brutally murdered her. Capital Police Detective Charles Chang leads the official investigation with the media spotlight following every step he makes.----------------- Clues send Chang in the direction of K Street where the senior senator from Illinois has close ties with lobbyists who provide him with plenty of campaign funding. However Chang also finds the street is close lipped to outsiders, even cops on official inquiries and corruption and lies are the norm. Under the press¿ persistent digging, the perfect Simmons¿s marriage suddenly has cracks and holes that make it look as if it was tied together by White House ambition only. Meanwhile Simmons¿s friend, retired detective Phil Rotondi wonders whether he should come clean with what he knows about the relationship between Lyle and Jeanette although he admits to himself he still has sour grapes having lost her to him when they attended college together.--------------- When the story line focuses on K Street, readers obtain an interesting look at how much influence is bought and sold as there is a lobbying stock market selling and buying specialized commodities. However, the constant flashbacks to college are a distraction that slows down the present murder mystery, which is too bad as this Capital Crimes entry had possibilities for an insightful relevant thriller if the plot concentrated on MURDER ON K STREET.---------- Harriet Klausner