Cover image for Murder in Foggy Bottom
Murder in Foggy Bottom
Truman, Margaret, 1924-2008.
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Random House, 2000.
Physical Description:
314 pages ; 25 cm.
Subject Term:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Central Library X Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks
Central Library X Adult Fiction Popular Materials-Mystery
Clearfield Library X Adult Fiction Mystery/Suspense
Collins Library X Adult Fiction Open Shelf
Grand Island Library X Adult Fiction Mystery/Suspense
Lackawanna Library X Adult Fiction Mystery/Suspense
Williamsville Library X Adult Fiction Mystery/Suspense
Julia Boyer Reinstein Library X Adult Fiction Mystery/Suspense

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In Margaret Truman's latest mystery, the scene opens with an obscure death in Washington's Foggy Bottom, home of the State Department, shifts to mass murder in the downing of aircraft, and then moves on to mayhem in the streets of the new Moscow. Leaving an airport near New York, a D.C.-bound commuter plane falls to earth. At almost the same time, another crash occurs. And then... Firmly ruling out coincidence, investigators seek means and motive. The means are soon apparent: small-scale weaponry with large-scale impact. Their country of origin? A place where nearly everything--hardware, information, love--can be found for a price. Max Pauling, a State Department investigator, seasoned, good-looking, and hard to fool, quickly takes off on a trail still as warm as the smoking wreckage. A host of vivid characters people the narrative, including a lovely State Department analyst who finds herself attracted to undercover types; a militia leader in Idaho who leads his people into gunfire; a reporter at odds with his boss but not with a good story; and a secretary of state who loves baseball slightly more than her job. Fast-paced and informative about flying, food, statecraft, and the violent "wetwork" under the dryly elegant exterior of diplomacy, Margaret Truman'sMurder in Foggy Bottomis another winner in the Capital Crimes series.

Author Notes

Mary Margaret Truman, daughter of President Harry S. Truman, was born on February 17, 1924 in Independence, Missouri. She graduated from George Washington University in 1946. She was also known as Margaret Truman or Margaret Daniel. She was an American singer who later became the successful author of a series of murder mysteries and a number of works on U.S. First Ladies and First Families, including a biography of her father, President Harry S. Truman. The only child of Harry Truman and First Lady Bess Truman; she was called "Margaret" for most of her life.

Truman made her concert debut with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra in 1947 and her first television appearance on Ed Sullivan's Toast of the Town. She substituted for Edward R. Murrow on Person to Person, and later had her own radio shows (Weekday in the 1950s and Authors in the News in the 1960s). She was active with organizations such as the Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation and the Truman Centennial Committee.

She published her first book, Souvenir: Margaret Truman's Own Story in 1956. She also wrote a series of mysteries set at historic locations in Washington, D. C. She died on January 29, 2008 following a brief illness.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 4

Booklist Review

Former first daughter Truman's Capital Crimes series, set in Washington, D.C., has drawn blood everywhere from the National Gallery to Watergate and the Library of Congress. This time she's targeted Foggy Bottom, the former swamp now home to the Kennedy Center and the U.S. State Department. The tale opens with government types in a tizzy because three commuter airliners belonging to three different airlines have crashed in three different areas of the country. To make matters worse, eyewitnesses at two of the crash sites claim to have seen missiles hit the aircraft; their claims are confirmed when pieces of now-obsolete Soviet missiles are found along with the wreckage. Certain the attacks were launched by a domestic hate group rather than foreign terrorists but anxious to score positive PR among the voters, everyone, including the president, opts to hit the wrong haters. The result is almost another Waco, giving further credence to the oft-quoted line about Washington being 18 square miles surrounded by reality. Solid entertainment. --Budd Arthur

Publisher's Weekly Review

The 17th entry in Truman's Capital Crimes series begins with the discovery of a well-dressed male corpse in the Foggy Bottom area of Washington, D.C. Washington Post reporter Joe Potamos is one of the first on the scene, determined to get the scoop on the dead man's identity. Two days later, three small commercial airliners plunge from the sky (in New York, Idaho and California), killing 78 people. Witnesses claim they saw missiles strike two of the planes. CIA agent Max Pauling, part of a government counterterrorist task force, gets on the case at the State Department, while in Washington State, FBI agents interview Zachary Jasper, head of a white supremacist group, as a possible suspect in the missile attacks. As the scene shifts from CIA headquarters to Russia to a Waco-like standoff with Jasper's group, all three investigations come together in a race to avert a fourth air disaster. Lacking a single main character, the novel offers a strong ensemble cast, all connected in some way to each other and the unfolding tragedies. Joe's girlfriend, professional pianist Roseann, unwittingly makes helpful contacts at her Washington gigs, while Max's flame, Jessica, has an ex-husband who'd been undercover in the white supremacist movement. The action moves at breakneck speed toward a chilling finale. More than simply an entertaining blend of mystery and espionage, this first-rate tale raises some important questions about how the U.S. government copes with terrorism. (July) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Max Pauling investigates a string of suspicious plane crashes for the State Department, which leads him to the black markets of Russia. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

School Library Journal Review

YA-Washington Post writer Potamos has a difficult riddle to solve. How does a murder in the district's Foggy Bottom section relate to the downing of three commuter aircraft by old Soviet missiles? Meanwhile, an undercover FBI agent who has infiltrated a suspicious Western commune discovers that a domestic hate group is responsible for the deaths of the people onboard. At the same time, a CIA agent in Moscow is working to identify the seller of the weapons. Suspense, fast-paced action in many locales, a wide variety of characters, and much dialogue result in a plot sure to please Truman's fans and those new to the series.-Claudia Moore, W. T. Woodson High School, Fairfax, VA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



Chapter 1 Monday Night Washington, DC The corpse was well dressed. Washington Post reporter Joe Potamos looked down at the body behind a bench in the pocket park in front of the hotel at Eye and K streets, on the eastern edge of Foggy Bottom. The victim was a white male with neatly trimmed and combed salt-and-pepper hair. His suit was blue, shirt white, tie gray with small red-and-white flags. "Canadian," Potamos said to a tall, box-like man writing in a small notebook. "Huh?" Peter Languth muttered as he continued to write. "Canadian. Those little flags arc Canadian," Potamos said. "The red maple leaf in the middle and those red blocks on each side. You don't know that?" Homicide detective Languth stopped writing and turned to look down at Potamos. Languth was six feet four; Potamos topped out at five-eleven. "You get off on flags, Joe?" Potamos shrugged and started writing in his own long, slender, spiral-bound notebook. Uniformed officers stretched yellow crime scene tape around the scene. A late-arriving EMS team knelt next to the body. Pressing in for a closer look were a half-dozen homeless men for whom the park passed for home in summer. One of them had alerted a passing squad car to the dead man's intrusion. "Get back," Languth growled at them. In the humid atmosphere of the nation's capital, the heavy air pressed down like a rubber blanket, capturing the men's pungent body odor. "You guys ever hear of a shower?" Languth asked, wrinkling his bulbous nose. "The hot water stopped working in my mansion," the youngest of the homeless men said. "Call a plumber," Languth said. Potamos hoped he wasn't contributing to the bouquet of the moment. He'd been wearing the same blue chambray shirt two days in a row, and hadn't gotten around to getting last summer's lighter-weight clothing back from the cleaners. He itched under the weight of his gray tweed jacket. "Sit over there till I want to talk to you," Languth told the odd assortment of men, pointing to a bench a few feet away. To a uniformed cop, he said, "Make sure nobody leaves." Potamos arched his back against stiffness and yawned. Eleven-twenty. He'd dozed off in front of the television set in his one-bedroom condo in Rosslyn, Virginia, just across the Potomac from the District, when the call came from his editor telling him to get to the park. Such a call wouldn't have been made a few years ago, when the State Department was his beat, and minor-crime reporting was only a memory. But that was then . "Whadda you see?" Languth asked one of the EMS technicians who'd left the body to come to where the beefy,, balding detective stood with Potamos. "Something in the ribs, right side." "No weapon?" Potarnos asked. Languth scowled. "You see any weapons, Joe? You see something nobody else does? Except flags?" Potamos nodded at the bench where the vagrants had gathered, smoking cigarettes and passing a brown paper bag among them. "You check them out?" he asked. "Joe, write your goddamn story and leave the investigation to me." "Just asking. I thought I'd let a few facts slip into the story." "Well, don't. How's it feel getting down and dirty, Joe, hanging around real people after being a media star? You used to cover this neighborhood, right?" "Don't start with me," Potamos said, feeling the familiar anger bubble up inside. He visualized a tranquil, sun-drenched beach and drew slow, even breaths, the way he'd been taught in the anger-management course he'd been forced to take after the incident that had cost him his State Department assignment. And the inherent perks and prestige that went with it. State wasn't exactly the White House, where something big seemed to be popping every day, but some of the stuff was important. A real story broke now and then--Bosnia, Israel, Rwanda ... "Hey, you, get over here," Languth yelled at the homeless men. Calmer now, Potamos listened as they gathered around the detective, who said, "Okay, what'd you lovely ladies see here tonight?" Twenty minutes later, after it was clear that the men were hear-no-evil, see-no-evil, the well-dressed body was removed. Photos of the body had been taken from many angles; the homeless men had given their nonstatements, names, and addresses--"Bench Number Three," the young wise-guy vagrant cracked--a search of the immediate area had been conducted; and the crowd that had gathered had wandered away. "Buy you a drink?" Potamos asked Languth. "No." "Suit yourself. What was in the deceased's wallet?" "Money, credit cards." "So, it wasn't a robbery gone wrong." "Brilliant deduction." "Who is he?" "Ever hear of next of kin, Joe?" "I'll hold it until you say it's okay." "Yeah, right." "You know who you remind me of, Pete?" "Who?" "Willy Loman." "Who's he?" " Death of a Salesman . Maybe just death. You ever see it?" "No. Is it out on video?" "Thanks for the usual wholehearted cooperation, Pete." "Always a pleasure, Joe. How come you never offer to buy me a drink when I'm off duty? Say hello to your buddy Bowen." The anger welled up again as Potamos watched Languth slowly walk away, big body moving side to side beneath his black raincoat, like an aging waiter with aching feet after a long shift. He went in the Lombardy, ordered a drink at the small bar, and made a few calls from his cell phone in search of additional information, including one to the Canadian embassy: "This is Joe Potamos from the Post ," he told the night-duty officer. "There's been a murder in the park across from the Lombardy Hotel; looks like the victim might be Canadian. What? No, I don't know who the victim was but I figured maybe somebody from your embassy was supposed to be there tonight but didn't show up and ... Huh? A man, middle-aged, nicely dressed, wore a tie with little Canadian flags on it and . . . Huh? No? I just thought I'd give it a try. No, I don't know his name. Yeah, thanks." He tried to reach a contact in the coroner's office in the hope of getting an ID on the deceased but was told he was away on vacation. He silently cursed Languth for not at least giving him a name, then filed the story, what little there was of it, and went to his condo in Rosslyn, where Jumper greeted him as though he were a raging success. He called Roseann at her apartment on Capitol Hill. Most nights, Potamos and the dog stayed there. But Potamos had kept the condo in Rosslyn as a gesture of independence, and as a refuge, especially when anger and frustration got the better of him, and Roseann, knowing how volatile he could be, never urged him to give it up. Smart girl, Ms. Blackburn. When he got in these moods, which she called his "vapors," he wasn't fit company for anyone, except the dog. It was the other times that had attracted Roseann to him, times when he could be tender and loving and funny and ... This was definitely a night full of vapors. "I tried you earlier," she said. "Everybody was trying tonight, it's a trying night out there," he said. "I was on a story. A homicide." "Where?" "That park in front of the Lombardy Hotel. How was your gig?" "All right." She worked Washington's upscale rooms and private parties, with an occasional real gig when one came up. Jazz was her love; playing show tunes on the piano at fancy affairs was her income. "You okay, Joe?" she asked, knowing he wasn't. "No, I'm not okay, Roseann. Instead of covering a murder, I'd rather commit one. Pete Languth was there." "Your dear friend from law enforcement?" "My fat cop friend." "You don't want to kill a cop, Joe." "How about Bowen, Anybody knows him'd give me a medal." "You shouldn't say such things on the phone. It might be tapped. This is Washington." "I hope it is. Tapped, I mean. Hey, anybody listening, I would like to kill George Alfred Bowen. Slowly." He sighed, said to her, "Ah, you've heard all this before. Potamos, the original broken record. Oops, CD. Showing my age. Sorry I didn't call before I went out. See you tomorrow?" "If Jumper lets you." She often said he liked the dog better than he liked her, which he had to admit was occasionally true; not just better than her, of course, better than the whole human world at large. "I'll talk to her about it. Look, Roseann, sorry that I'm down. Sometimes--well, sometimes it seems to pile up, you know? I'll get over it, always do, huh?" He laughed. Roseann smiled on the other end of the phone, seeing his face, the crooked grin, healthy white teeth made whiter against his dusky complexion, knowing he was feeling sorry for himself and that he disliked people who felt sorry for themselves, and feeling a little foolish for whining and wishing he hadn't. "Joe, I understand. I really do. And excuse the comment about Jumper. Just kidding." "Yeah, I know you were. I'd come over but it's late and-" "Get a good night's sleep, Joe. I love you." "And I'm glad you do. Good night, Roseann. See you tomorrow." Roseann hung up, sat back on the couch, and absently played with an errant strand of her lustrous hair. Her feelings at the moment were ambivalent; Joe was good at creating mixed emotions. On the one hand, she'd settled into the reality that being in love with the changeable-- that's an understatement---reporter came with some baggage, his, and her's, too, of course. They'd met when Joe was a hotshot general assignment reporter for the Post , covering the murder in Georgetown of Valerie Frolich, the daughter of a powerful U.S. senator. It hadn't been love at first sight. He was handsome enough to turn her head, but his quirky personality was readily apparent on their first date; he was skeptical of everything, bordering on cynical, opinionated, talkative in spurts, silent for long periods. Not an easy person. Then again, Roseann had never considered herself a prize catch either. Since being labeled a prodigy when she was eight--she later wondered whether her piano teacher said that to encourage her mother to keep writing the weekly checks--she increasingly immersed herself in her music, although not always in the direction of classical performance, to the chagrin of her teacher. She began listening to jazz in her teens, her father's record collection the prime source, and gradually applied her classical training to that distinctly American art form, the two not wholly incompatible. In a sense, music increasingly became an introspective substitute for the more social pursuits enjoyed by her friends. Roseann once told her therapist, "I sometimes think I accompany life on the piano rather than living it." Which was true. She was able to smoothly fend off the advances of men--there were many, several even desirable--by offering her career as an excuse: "Sorry, I have a lesson." "Sorry, I'm due at a rehearsal." "Sorry, I'm in the middle of writing an opera and can't break my momentum." Until Joe came along, who, she reasoned early in the relationship, had as many problems as she did, which made them soul mates who often understood each other's foibles and fractures, and who knew when to back off, ease up, put their heads under the covers until the storm passed. Like tonight. She slept soundly. Excerpted from Murder in Foggy Bottom by Margaret Truman All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

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