The Solomon Scandals is a provocative Washington suspense novel inspired by now-forgotten history. A deadly high-rise collapse happened in Northern Virginia, and a U.S. senator and a Supreme Court justice held stakes in a CIA-occupied building.
In the novel, an audacious reporter for a crooked newspaper investigates the darker side of a popular real estate tycoon. One of the tycoon's rickety buildings houses hundreds of workers for a shadowy bureaucracy. The reporter's incendiary discoveries compel him to hide his related memoir for a century to shield those on the scandals' fringes.
David H. Rothman's complex tale teems with memorable characters (some caught up in a classic Washington dilemma-friendship vs. duty):
-Seymour "Sy" Solomon, the folksy, self-made real estate magnate, buys politicians but does so with far more class than the typical business buccaneer.
-George McWilliams is a mysterious editor wealthy enough to have built a mini Versailles.
-Wendy Blevin is a powerful but inwardly fragile gossip columnist from an Old Money family that has already suffered its share of tragedies.
-Margo Danialson, a B.A. in medieval studies, is unhappily tethered to a corrupt federal agency.
-Dr. Rebecca Kitiona-Fenton, a multiracial feminist, outspokenly annotates the newspaper memoirs of her white great-granduncle, Jonathan Stone.
The second edition of Scandals contains a revealing essay on historical connections, underscoring Rothman's reporting leading to a Congressional investigation and NBC and ABC exposés. Supreme Court ethics controversies make Scandals especially timely.
Rothman blends history, ethics, and intrigue. His style is hardboiled and often satirical. Although Scandals includes strong language and some sexist and racist dialogue, Dr. Kitiona-Fenton's endnotes provide additional context in the second edition.
Ted Scheinman, reviewing Rothman's first edition for the Washington City Paper, wrote: "We get to relish his chatty first-person narrator spinning characterizations of D.C. with the same dark zeal Hammett held for Frisco or Chandler had for Los Angeles."
"We get to relish his chatty first-person narrator spinning characterizations of D.C. with the same dark zeal Hammett held for Frisco or Chandler had for Los Angeles." - Ted Scheinman, Washington City Paper.
"Captures the aura of dark nihilism in some quarters of the political world with great power. Here, Solomon casually acknowledges that his building will eventually fall: 'Solomon shrugged and frowned like a pacifist accused of the My Lai massacre. "Of course it's falling down. All buildings fall down someday. All people die someday."' This is a riveting work, mordantly insightful and surprisingly entertaining." - Kirkus Reviews.
"There is exquisite detail attached to the major characters in the book. Social class, regional dialect, gender and non-verbal communication patterns have clearly been given deep thought ... Some fascinating plot twists occur so the element of suspense stays strong throughout the read .... An odd, murky charm ... recalls The Maltese Falcon ..." - Lisa Torem, Pennyblackmusic (pennyblackmusic.co.uk).