The Woman in the Picture (1944) by John August [Bernard de Voto]
When Senator Tom Fetterman suffers a stroke and lies at death's door, it looks like Tyler Damon will finally get a chance to jockey his puppet, Eugene Penfield, into Congress. The anti-semitic, fascist-loving Damon and his followers would love to get some power at the national level. All that stands between him and the power he seeks is one frail old man, Scott Warner and a group of liberal patriots, and.....Marta Penfield. Marta Penfield disappeared after her husband's best friend was found shot. The death was ruled a suicide, but many (including Warner) believe that Penfield may have been responsible. It was rumored that Marta Penfield was died...and FBI searches could find no trace of her after she wandered away from a sanitarium into the desert. But Warner believes her to be alive and on the run from Damon's tough guys. If Warner is right, he wants to try to find Marta and convince her to tell what she knows about Dixon Gale's death in that lonely cabin. His colleagues believe it to be a vain hope...but then he spots a profile in a picture proof destined to be printed in a national magazine within a month's time. He has one month to find out if that really is Marta and get to her before Damon sees the next issue of Spectacle....
Not really a straight mystery. It has political intrigue with thriller undertones and a cross-country chase. This is a fun, straight-forward adventure--and, of course, the good guys win. A solid, quick read but not for those who want clues and an intricate plot to unravel. ★★★
First line: In the good old days the newspaper photographer, though perhaps a family man and a good citizen, was not a person of importance.
Last line: "That's for tomorrow, of course...It's such a little way from house to house...I'm sound of limb, my dear, and in your custody."
Deaths = three shot; one natural