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by Mike Doogan
Putnam, August 2007
320 pages
ISBN: 0399154310

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Nik Kane was once a detective lieutenant in the Anchorage police force that is until one night, under the influence of alcohol, he killed a 12-year-old boy. Seven years later, he was exonerated of the crime and released from prison, but Tom Jeffords, Chief of Police of Anchorage, refuses to give Nik his old job back. Instead, he gets him a position at a security company. Jeffords has his fingers in many pies, both legal and not.

Meanwhile, back in Juneau, Matthew Hope, a native Alaskan legislator, a liberal democrat in a reactionary, right wing republican state, is accused of murdering a beautiful young legislative aide. He is found by a cleaner standing over her body holding the murder weapon.

Jeffords sends Kane to meet Mrs Richard Foster, a rich widow who hires Kane to find out the truth behind the 'White Rose Murder.' She doesn't reveal her interest in Senator Hope, but convinces Kane to at least go to Juneau to learn what he can.

Kane finds Juneau an incestuous place. Everyone knows everyone else's business. It's a small town, accessible only by boat or airplane, and really only busy during the four months when the legislature is in session.

CAPITOL OFFENSE is about Alaskan politics, but it is really a microcosm of American politics in general. Each chapter is headed by an epigraph such as:

"Politics is as exciting as war and almost as dangerous. In war you can only be killed once, but in politics many times." Winston Churchill.

"Being in politics is like being in a football game. You have to be smart enough to know the game and stupid enough to think it important." Eugene McCarthy.

We also learn bits and pieces about Nik Kane's ex-wife and children, but not enough to make the characters alive. The ending is also a little flat but if you like seeing the machinations of politicians in the foreign-seeming milieu of Juneau, Alaska, then this book is certainly for you. It is apparently the second in a series, but stands nicely alone. Author Mike Doogan is an Alaskan legislator who is a former columnist for the Anchorage Daily News.

Reviewed by Barbara Franchi, June 2007

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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