Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Homicide in the House by Colleen Shogan - #review

Kit Marshall has bounced back from her first brush with the law, when she was suspected of murdering her senator boss. Now she is working for a freshman congresswoman, Maeve Dixon, a young Gulf War veteran representing North Carolina. It’s February, and Kit is feeling out of sorts. A government shutdown has just been announced, wreaking havoc on the Hill, and Dan, Dixon’s chief of staff and Kit’s supervisor, is an inexperienced lightweight flying blind. Then there’s Kit’s distracted live-in boyfriend, Doug, who doesn’t seem any closer to popping the question. Kit’s best friend Meg is up to her eyeballs with her new beau and oversight committee job, and Clarence the beagle mix will certainly not win Capitol Canine if Meg has to campaign for him all by herself. Bad as things are now, they are about to get much worse.

Early one morning Representative Dixon is caught standing over the corpse of Jack Drysdale, the Speaker of the House’s top staffer, a man she argued with in front of the press the day before. The murder weapon was the Speaker’s gavel. This item was entrusted to Dixon at the time, leading the police to believe they’ve found their killer. To save her job, Kit must clear her boss’s name, and quickly. Dixon’s career may be over if the police declare her a suspect or an anonymous blogger known as Hill Rat breaks the story. Solving this murder will test Kit’s courage and all her fledgling powers of deduction as she roams a spooky, sparsely populated Capitol Hill looking for clues and sounding out suspects.



Poor Kit can't seem to catch a break.  If she's not caught standing over a corpse with the murder weapon in her hand, her boss is in a similar pickle this go around.  In Stabbing in the Senate, Kit worked for a senior Senator.  Now she works for a junior Congresswoman (with not nearly the job prestige).

Ms. Shogan helps us navigate the treacherous, murky waters of the Beltway political scene in language that is both plain and understandable, yet does not patronize the reader.  Oh, if only the government could learn that lesson.  According to CNN, the President's proposed 2012 budget was 2,403 pages long (and over half of that were appendices)!  N.o.b.o.d.y. can read that much and remember 1/10th of what they've read.  And as so many of the politicians are as interested or more interested in keeping their jobs than representing their constituents (when the two are at odds), it's a wonder they agree on anything.

All of which can lead, occasionally, to the specter of a federal government shutdown, which happens in Homicide in the House.  The legislative branch of the federal government have no incentive to avoid a shutdown ... because they get paid regardless.  It's nice to make the rules, eh?

Making the federal staff members 'flesh and blood' people is another talent of this author's.  In real life, it's hard to realize that clerk at the DMV that puts up the "next window please" sign just as you get to the front of the line worries about the price of milk, or might be caring for a sick relative.  Even the status-conscious pencil-pushers in Homicide are rarely 100% evil, and the friendlies have their own pecadillos.

Will Kit stay on the Hill?  Or will she hop to the judicial or executive branch of the government next?  Will Doug EVER propose?  How did Dan (Kit's boss) get the job when he is so obviously unqualified?  (No wait, I probably don't actually want to know the answer to that one.)  What I do want to know is that despite her coincidental proximity to homicides in the nation's capital, that Kit will have a long and healthy career!



Colleen J. Shogan is a senior executive at the Library of Congress. She is the former deputy director of the Congressional Research Service and previously served as a staffer in the United States Senate. A political scientist by training, Colleen has taught American government at Georgetown University, Penn, and George Mason. Colleen is a native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She received her BA from Boston College and her doctorate from Yale. A member of Sisters in Crime, she lives in Arlington, Virginia, with her husband Rob Raffety and their rescue mutt, Conan. Her first book, Stabbing in the Senate, won the Next Generation Indie Award for Best Mystery in 2016.




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(Disclosure:  I received a copy of this book from the author and publishers via Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours in exchange for my honest review.)


  1. I like the setting of this book, Washington DC. I'm looking forward to "Murder in the House". Great series.