Working from the seemingly bottomless pile of unpublished manuscripts Roosevelt left behind when he died, St. Martin's offers a worthy addition to the Eleanor Roosevelt series, sprightlier (and sexier) than many of the earlier installments. Braintruster Horace Blackwell came to Washington with FDR in 1933, living in a guest room across the hall from Roosevelt's suite. Just months later, his naked, repeatedly stabbed body is found there by an African American White House maid--whom the prim Secret Service man and blowsy D.C. cop in charge of the case quickly nab for murder. The First Lady demands a further (though low-profile) investigation, which reveals Blackwell as a scoundrel and sadist. Readers whose sexual tolerance stops at the missionary position may pass, but most will find Murder at Midnight
an intricately plotted, entertaining read, full of the series' offhand insights into New Deal history and vivid glimpses of 1930s celebrities. Mary Carroll
From Kirkus Reviews
Another of Roosevelt's posthumous stories (Murder in the Chateau, 1996, etc.)--this one set in the early days of FDR's first term, when a so-called Brain Trust was helping the President's efforts to solve the country's crucial problems. One of that esteemed group is Judge Horace Blackwell from New York. He has been a guest in a second-floor bedroom of the White House for several weeks when he's found, late one night, stabbed to death. Sara Carter, the young black maid who discovers the body, is promptly arrested by Secret Service agent Lawrence Pickering, despite the protestations of Eleanor Roosevelt, who declares herself an unofficial member of the investigating team. Blackwell, it soon appears, was a charismatic, sadistic rou, with a string of high- and low-placed sex partners. He also had some bitter enemies among the big-time mobsters back in New York. A couple of mob henchmen have now surfaced in Washington, for what purpose Pickering can't fathom, until the night Achille ``Chickie'' Pepino is found shot to death in a White House corridor. Confusion reigns until Eleanor gets the help of an expert to verify her suspicion of the killer's identity and proves to be right on target. All of this plays out side by side with glimpses of world and national events and the ongoing business of the presidency, lending piquancy and historical interest to a well-honed plot. One of the best in the series. -- Copyright ©1997, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.