Potomac Fever

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Cal Terrell and Bobbie Short are experienced, if somewhat jaded, homicide detectives with the Washington, D.C. police force. They are assigned to investigate the death of Mary Jeanne Turner who, at first, appears to be just another young, drug-addicted victim in a city where drugs and murder are a way of life. Suddenly Cal and Bobbie are ordered to divert their attention to a drive-by shooting sensationalized by the press as “the Reggae Club massacre.”

As Cal and Bobbie doggedly pursue their slender leads, they gradually come to learn that beneath the facade of two seemingly unrelated and random street crimes lies a far more sordid and complex scheme involving highly placed politicians and Washington power brokers. Sophisticated efforts, by individuals highly placed in the government, are mounted to distract and outwit the determined pair. Cal and Bobbie forge ahead in spite of all the obstacles in their way. Unfortunately, they never fully realize that, as they uncover a convoluted scheme connecting the original two crimes to the Washington mayoral race, a high- profile D.C. real estate venture, foreign power interests, campaign financing, and even the White House, they are placing their own lives into increasing danger. They persist nonetheless, and the results are unexpected and eventually very tragic.

Henry Horrock, pseudonym for the husband and wife writing team of Diane Henry and Nicholas Horrock, has created both a gripping detective story and a dark, timely commentary on Washington, D.C., national, and even presidential politics in Potomac Fever. Although all crimes are eventually solved, the reader might reasonably ask whether the price paid by ethical people responding to the apparently inevitable intrigue which can accompany big national campaign donor demands for political power is, ultimately, a price too high.