Murder at the Pentagon

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Margit Falk is obviously on a fast track to high rank in the U.S. Army. Admittedly, her gender will be an inhibiting factor, but her credentials as a lawyer and a helicopter pilot with combat experience (these things do happen, despite Defense Department restrictions to the contrary) serve to land her a prestigious Pentagon assignment. Unfortunately, those same factors, particularly her gender, combine to place her in a most difficult position in terms of a further military career.

Major Falk’s problems begin when a civilian consultant to the Department of Defense (Dr. Richard Joycelen) is murdered in the Pentagon itself. Not only are the hallowed halls of the defense establishment violated, but the murderer, Captain Robert Cobol, is captured on video tape. It seems an open-and-shut case: Cobol killed Joycelen in consequence of a homosexual lover’s quarrel, and nothing else need be said. But, as Major Falk, Cobol’s newly assigned defense counsel, soon discovers, matters are far from simple.

Cobol denies his guilt as well as the existence of any personal relationship with Joycelen. He convinces Falk of his innocence, leading to an investigation which soon reveals evidence of a sinister conspiracy. Falk continues her investigation despite the apparent suicide of her client and uncovers a plot which required numerous victims to keep it alive and its participants out of jail.

Margaret Truman’s works are not terribly introspective. They provide enjoyably light reading illuminated by an insider’s look at the nation’s capital and the individuals who inhabit the corridors of power. Those who have consumed earlier Truman volumes will not be disappointed by this new addition.