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Capital Crimes #1

Murder in the White House

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Investigating the strangling death of the Secretary of State in the Lincoln Bedroom, White House counsel Ron Fairbanks hears that the Secretary was a womanizer with ties to a glamorous call girl, and finds evidence of unofficial connections with international wheeler-dealers. Fairbanks discovers only a few highly placed insiders had access to the Lincoln Bedroom that fateful evening. And one of them was the president.

262 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 1980

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About the author

Margaret Truman

62 books215 followers
Mary Margaret Truman-Daniel, widely known throughout her life as "Margaret Truman", (February 17, 1924 — January 29, 2008) was an American singer who later became a successful writer. She was the only child of Harry S. Truman (33rd President of the United States) and his wife Bess.

Born in Independence, Missouri, she was christened Mary Margaret Truman (for her aunt Mary Jane Truman and her maternal grandmother Margaret Gates Wallace) but was called Margaret from early childhood.

In 1944 Truman christened the battleship USS Missouri, which was named after her home state (when the ship was recommissioned in 1986 she was a featured speaker at the ceremony).

Truman pursued a singing career in the late 1940s. After graduating from George Washington University and receiving some operatic vocal training, she debuted with the radio broadcast of a vocal recital in March 1947. After a performance in December 1950, Washington Post music critic Paul Hume wrote she was “extremely attractive on the stage... [but] cannot sing very well. She is flat a good deal of the time.” Her father, then President, wrote to Hume, "I have never met you, but if I do you'll need a new nose and plenty of beefsteak and perhaps a supporter below." Years later she recalled, “I thought it was funny. Sold tickets.”[1] Truman's singing career was widely publicized during her father's presidency and the February 26, 1951 cover of Time Magazine carried her image with a single musical note floating by her head. She performed on stage, radio and television until the mid 1950s.

Truman's place in pop culture was confirmed by her appearances as a Guest Panelist on the popular game show What's My Line?, replacing Dorothy Kilgallen several times and also appearing as a Mystery Guest.

Truman married New York Times reporter (and later editor) Clifton Daniel (1912 - 2000) on April 21, 1956 at Trinity Episcopal Church in Independence, Missouri. They had four sons:

* Clifton Truman Daniel (born 1957) - has written and spoken publicly about his grandfather and his experiences as the grandchild of a president.
* William Wallace Daniel (1959 - 2000) - who died in a New York City taxi cab collision
* Harrison Gates Daniel (born 1963)
* Thomas Washington Daniel (born 1966).

She wrote several non-fiction and fiction books. Harry S. Truman (1972) was a critically acclaimed, full length biography of her father drawn from extensive resources at the Truman Library, published shortly before his death. Bess W. Truman (1986) was a detailed personal biography of her mother. She also wrote books on White House first ladies and pets, the history of the White House and its inhabitants, along with a critically successful series of fictional murder mysteries set in various locations in and around Washington, D.C. There have been claims these murder mysteries were ghost-written, perhaps by Donald Bain, but he denies this.[2][3] She continued to write and publish regularly into her eighties.

In later life Mrs. Daniel resided in her Park Avenue home in Manhattan and served on the Board of Directors for the Harry S Truman Presidential Library and Museum along with the Board of Governors for the Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Institute.

Margaret Truman-Daniel died in Chicago at the age of 83 on January 29, 2008, following a brief illness during which she was on a respirator and living in an assisted care facility.[4] On February 23, following a private memorial service, her ashes and those of her husband E. Clifton Daniel were interred in her parents' burial plot at the Truman Library and Museum in Independence, Missouri.

Series:
* Capital Crimes

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5 stars
652 (23%)
4 stars
994 (35%)
3 stars
909 (32%)
2 stars
193 (6%)
1 star
48 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 203 reviews
Profile Image for Brina.
873 reviews4 followers
March 11, 2018
My magical mystery tour rolls on with Margaret Truman's Murder in the White House. Truman is the daughter of former President Harry S Truman and after writing a touching biography of her father, turned her hand toward a series of mysteries taking place in the nation's capital. As a lover of both history and mysteries, I decided to give the first book in the series a try.

President and First Lady Robert and Catherine Webster are returning from a key trip to France where they had been promoting an international trade agreement. Other nations are not happy with the Websters pro American sentiment as this new agreement may promote jobs but focuses on stimulating the American auto industry while the economies of Japan, England, and Germany could stand to lose millions upon billions of dollars. Yet, Americans are happy with Webster, a former senator, and tabloids tend to focus on a supposed budding relationship with the Websters' daughter Lynne and White House counsel Ronald Fairbanks. All appears to be rosy for the Websters and a second term seems to be a foregone conclusion.

A foregone conclusion, that is, until Secretary of State Lansard Blaine is found murdered in the Yellow Room. Only someone with access to the residence on the second floor could have committed the crime, and Webster desires a quick resolution to the case. He assigns Fairbanks to head the investigation, and he appoints civil servant Jill Keller to assist him. Together, they dig up a lot of dirt on Blaine, discovering his lewd private life and a long list of prominent people who would have like to see him murdered. The list includes President Webster who is not absolved until the crime is solved. Although an old family friend of Blaine, the two did not see eye to eye on the trade agreement, leading to Blaine being forced to announce his resignation. As Fairbanks and Keller dig deeper, they find more secrets and wrong doing occurring in both the public and private life of cabinet members.

Truman takes readers for a thrilling ride in a way that only a Washington insider can, although I enjoyed the story more so than the writing. The story is nearly forty years old and seems dated with the lack of computers, cell phones, and social media to aid the detectives in their work. This book could easily be updated to become a modern movie but then it would not be an old fashioned style whodunit full of sleuthing using deductive reasoning. Fairbanks and Keller are so-so characters who I would not mind following up on, but with only average writing, this is not a series that I see myself investing much energy in. All in all a fun read.

3 stars
Profile Image for Heidi.
130 reviews
July 27, 2009
Not a favorite of mine. It's a quick read; I'll give the book that. But that's just about the only positive thing I can say. The ending was really disappointing, and I thought the book contained a lot of unnecessary trash. Also, the author would randomly switch between 1st and 3rd person narrative right in the middle of things, and then suddenly switch back after a paragraph. I'm not sure if this was just really poor writing and editing, or if it was some weird attempt at creativity, but whatever it was, it sure didn't work for me.
Profile Image for Norma.
68 reviews2 followers
November 18, 2021
El título la vdd no es que llame mucho la atención pero le di la oportunidad.
No considero que sea una lectura que recomiende, ya que a medio libro no salíamos de lo mismo en 100 150 páginas y lo hizo tedioso y cansado.
Me llamaba la atención por qué buscando a la autora y sus más de 30 libros pensé que tal vez si está me gustaba conseguiría toda su obra y no fue el caso.
Sin pena ni gloria
Profile Image for Theresa.
973 reviews19 followers
October 12, 2020
Humph. Why have I not devoured this series before? I've owned a paperback of this one - and one or two in the series - for decades! I have a niggling feeling that I acquired them used and never read because I then heard negative reviews on them. Well, silly me for listening and not just reading and making my own judgment, as I usually do. I LOVED this and cannot wait to check out more in the series!

Ron, a young lawyer, is special counsel to President Webster, may or may not be serious about Lynne, the President's daughter, but whatever the relationship (and even Ron isn't sure), everyone considers him the son-in-law-to-be in the Webster family, and thus part of the very narrow inner circle. Also important in the cast of characters are Lan, the Secretary of State and a longtime intimate friend of the Webster family, and Gimbel, general factotum and fixer for the President, also a long time intimate of the President. Lan & Gimbel are privy to information and old secrets of the Webster family, Ron is not.

The story opens as the President and his family arrive back on Air Force One from Paris where the preliminary settlement documents for a controversial new global trade treaty were signed. All the key players meet in the Oval Room to debrief the trip and signing. And the author provides us with important clues as to the relationships and behavior of all the key characters. It is late at night and soon all go their separate ways, including Ron who heads into his office in the West Wing to read some important papers. When he finishes, locks up and heads home, he's stopped and finds himself with the President in the Lincoln Sitting Room on the 2nd floor of the White House, staring at the murdered body of the Secretary of State, who was murdered while making a phone call.

Note: these were written in 1980 - no mobile phones, no internet, no computers, but dictaphone and tapes - but they do not feel dated at all. In part because I think, of the static locale - the White House and the highest reaches of government.

Ron is by Executive Order of the President put in charge of the investigation. Truman does a superb job of tossing you an obvious murderer at the beginning, so obvious that you immediately start looking for clues as to what's really happened. It was an engaging read, with a bit of excitement just as it was a little too much interviewing suspects and reviewing timelines. And at the end, there is a twist or two that you only partially see coming, but absolutely not completely.

The series is called Capital Crimes and I do not believe the same characters appear in each one. I also note that another author has taken over the series and continued it after Margaret Truman's death. And yes, Margaret Truman is President Truman's daughter. She knows of what she writes.
Profile Image for Terry.
804 reviews8 followers
March 29, 2015
I knew Ms. Truman was a mystery writer, but I never had any interest in reading her works until I visited the Truman’s Little White House in Key West and learned Ms. Truman was inspired by Agatha Christie. Had the two been publishing at the same time, Ms. Christie would not have had to worry about the competition. I guess this was okay as far as a political thriller goes, but I figured out who did it early on, like before page 50. Usually I like figuring things out early and experiencing how the author gets to the conclusion. However, I found myself pretty bored with this. Possibly because the characters weren’t very interesting. I’ll read more of Ms. Truman simply because was able top pick up four of her novels for $1 ea. Am hoping the reading experience will deepen.
Profile Image for Sireesha.
115 reviews
June 23, 2021
2.5 stars. This is a really weird book. The author knows the Whitehouse well and clearly understands politics. What she doesn't do well is write mystery. I picked the murderer almost immediately. That's not usually a deal breaker for me as the joy is in solving the crime. This was all over the place. So many pointless periphery characters, introduced only so the author could show off her insider knowledge. Adds nothing to the mystery. And the ridiculous abrupt ending. So 2 stars for the setting and period (ah the 80s) and half a star for retro cover.
Profile Image for Carole Jarvis.
793 reviews42 followers
July 14, 2021
Classic murder mystery in a Washington, D.C. setting. Interesting and held my attention throughout. There were several characters, realistically flawed, but fairly easy to follow. Not remarkable, but entertaining and I plan on reading more from this series.
146 reviews3 followers
November 9, 2015
Murder in the White House, Margaret Truman
This is a murder mystery written in third person by Margaret Truman, President Truman’s daughter, who is familiar with the White House, and writes with authenticity. It is not based on factual events however. The book is divided into two parts, the first includes an introduction and a day by day transcript of events as they occur from June 12 throughout June 19. The last part presents the evidence and speculation and reveals the guilty. Don’t cheat and skip to the end, it may spoil it for you. Truman does a good job of developing believable characters and realistic dialogue. Being a murder mystery it entails a lot of investigation, mystery, a little romance, and a tragic and sensitive secret.
Profile Image for Britney.
256 reviews3 followers
February 7, 2017
Not a bad start

3.5 star. The President assigns his Special Counsel Advisor to solve the murder. He wants to keep as much as he can from the press. As the killing is being looked into you get some insight into politics and things that possibly go on in Washington. Wasn't a bad start to the series. It will be interesting to see how the next one takes place after the finish in this one.
Profile Image for Kathi.
839 reviews4 followers
August 18, 2020
What a disappointment

For years, I've heard how wonderful this series is. So I've collected a few and sat down to read in order.

This book needs an editor: run-on sentences, sentences with a period in the middle, sentences that don't make sense and have to be read aloud to be understood.

And the ending that isn't. The writing just stops. Nothing is resolved.

Disappointing.
Profile Image for Sharon.
542 reviews1 follower
March 29, 2016
A good old-fashioned whodunit, by a woman who knows the ins and outs of Washington politics. Even though these were written years ago, they still have plenty of intrigue.
Profile Image for Denise.
6,304 reviews102 followers
June 15, 2020
Not overly long ago, it came to my attention that beginning back in the 80s, Margaret Truman, daughter of former US president Harry Truman, penned a longrunning series of murder mysteries set among the highest echelons of power inside the US government. Now, I love a good mystery and political thriller, and the rather unique settings (this first book involves the murder of the Secretary of State inside the White House) informed by the author's unique insights made this an almost irresistable series to try out. If this series opener is anything to go by, she can certainly spin a good story - I'll be back for more.
121 reviews2 followers
January 8, 2022
3.5 stars. I’ve listened to a couple of these books in the middle of the series and enjoyed them so now plan to do the rest in order. This one was a bit choppy in transitions but got better. I’ll probably read one a month throughout the year. Easy read. I am interested in how she’ll transition stories through different administrations and locations.

Margaret Truman wrote 25 books in the series and another author has continued on with 5 more. Yikes! That’s a lot to add to my list!
Profile Image for Judith.
1,000 reviews15 followers
February 23, 2017
I read this many years ago. I didn't think it was great then and I don't think it's great now, but it's certainly readable and Truman is competent.

The basic plot: the secretary of state is found murdered in the White House. An investigation by the President's Special Counsel, Ron Fairbanks, a bright young man, reveals some darkness in the Secretary of State's handling of his job. There are different reasons he might have been murdered, but there is a limiting factor: only a small number of persons had access to that floor of the White House at the time he was killed.

Ron investigates so thoroughly that he is himself threatened. But why? By whom? He has his suspicions but proof is harder to find.

I found Truman's use of ellipses a bit profligate. Every chapter has several paragraphs ending in three dots. As if she couldn't express certainty, but rather a kind of wandering mind. I think she should have just ended those sentences with a period and been done with it.

I also felt that the story was short on nail-biting drama. Much of the story was telegraphed so there were few surprises, and times of uncertainty were short-lived. I think real life tends to be this way so I didn't mind it too much but others may.

I wondered if an investigation of this type could have been handled in this way: by appointment of an investigator who was a lawyer, not a detective. Not sure how that works, although many of us have lived through years of special prosecutors who interviewed those involved, so maybe it does work that way.
Profile Image for Doug Warren.
201 reviews9 followers
June 28, 2014
After the first couple of pages I was coming up with one line reviews to cover this whole book;
"You know those conversations you hear old people having and can't believe anyone in the world would find them interesting, this book was just a boring old person conversation." and "This book would have never been published if she were not a president's daughter." &t.
But, it got better. The dialog was really good and kept the story going. The details and plot action, eh, not so much, but it was a good quick read. I really have no complaints. Well, except for the first two or three pages. Those were pretty awful. And the fact that the chapters were so long. Two were over 40 pages, and one was over 60. Ok, so I have two complaints. Three if you count how boring the stuff that wasn't dialog was.
Profile Image for Keli Wright.
664 reviews8 followers
January 21, 2012
I loved this book. Maybe one of the reasons I loved it was because it was set in Washington DC and written by a first daughter...It was interesting to compare how things were doine in 1980 and how they are now..It is amazing that they even solved crimes back then with no DNA or ballistics or luminol or anything. ..I am going to read the rest of her books..it was a good quick read. I reccommend it for anyone that likes mysteries and the DC area...they even mentioned going to a st. in Alexandria that I googled and it exists and I even know approximatly where it is!
Profile Image for Brian.
300 reviews44 followers
December 2, 2021
This is a quick read and I enjoyed it, although not as much as some of the other books in the series. The suspense and sense of danger build throughout the story as the investigative team tries to uncover the motive for the murder, which is the key to determining the identity of the killer. The story benefits from Ms. Truman's first-hand knowledge of the White House and of the political realities of Washington. The character development could be stronger, but all in all it's an enjoyable read.
Profile Image for Cathy .
147 reviews1 follower
July 24, 2014
This was my first Margaret Truman book. I enjoyed it and really like her writing style. I agree with some other reviewers that the story was a little lacking but it was a very quick read and I will definitely read more of this series as I understand it gets better.
Profile Image for Ellen Moore.
681 reviews5 followers
February 3, 2015
This was a very interesting book. Truman writes extremely well and makes good use of her knowledge of Washington politics as a first daughter who had lived in the White House in creating her novel. I liked the book.
Profile Image for Susan.
196 reviews4 followers
July 8, 2017
House of Cards set in the 1980s

Solid story, well written; perfect for a mystery lover. I couldn't help but imagine a young Francis Underwood as this story's President Webster. Love a good Washington intrigue.
Profile Image for Margie.
397 reviews1 follower
October 13, 2011
I have been meaning to read this for years. It was written by President Truman's daughter, Margaret.
Profile Image for Deranged Dreamer.
402 reviews27 followers
February 3, 2017
This was terrible.
It had so much potential.
But in the end you don´t care about any of the characters.
Profile Image for Karen.
494 reviews22 followers
April 6, 2020
This is the first book in the Capital Crimes series. It is series of mysteries that take place in Washington, DC at many of its iconic sites. These are real places but made-up mysteries involving made-up characters. I love reading mysteries but these series offers another detail I absolutely adore in a book. The setting/location. I love reading a story featuring places I know about and seeing them accurately described. Also, Margaret Truman writes an good mystery with a mixture of politics and who-done-it all blended together perfectly.

White House counsel, Ryan Fairbanks, works for the President of the United States and is becoming interested in the Presidents daughter. Seems like Fairbanks has a nice future laying out ahead of him u til the unthinkable happens. Someone is murdered in the White House. Not just anyone but the Secretary of State is found dead after someone wrapped a metal wire around his throat and stangled him. In a town like Washington, DC, this is gossip and this story is gossip of the highest order. Unfortunately, Fairbanks is chosen to be the head of this mutli-agency task force whose purpose is to catch a killer. This type of situation needs to be resolved quickly and efficiently. With each person involved, secrets and political advantage are more important than who the killer really is and Fairbanks is fast getting no where. He knows it is someone who is close to and trusted by the President and he knows that no matter the outcome Fairbank's time working at the White House is most likely coming to an end. He is a lawyer not a detective. He quickly realizes that someone would like to discredit him and that these people he work with are basically strangers. He spends a majority of his waking hours with the President and his family, the Secretary of State and many of the people who had the opportunity to kill the Secretary. Truthfully, Fairbanks quickly realizes that all these people have secrets and lead personal lives he was not aware they even had. Can Fairbanks catch the killer? Is it someone close to him? When the truth comes out, will he be able to survive the political fallout?

I started this book in February and just finished it in April. I also read two other books, got a chest cold and like so many others obsessed over the corona virus during this time. So the length of time it took me to read this story does not reflect on how good this story is. I have to say that I did not see the killer coming. I loved the Margaret Truman accurately described the settings like the White House and how she wove the details of the characters personal lives into the atmosphere. Each character played a public part but it was the personal details that moved this story along. I will be reading the next book in this series as soon as possible. Politics, gossip, dirty dealing and mystery make a good tale,
Profile Image for Jeremy Anderberg.
401 reviews48 followers
March 13, 2021
As a POTUS history nerd, I’ve long been intrigued by Margaret Truman’s writings. As the daughter of a president, she had a unique knowledge of the White House’s—and Washington, DC’s—inner workings. In addition to some biographical work on her parents, she also penned a mystery series called Capital Crimes, which focused on dastardly deeds set in our nation’s capital city. There’s not a recurring character, which almost makes the series easier to digest; it’s sometimes intimidating to jump into a long-running set of books, especially if you’re a completist like me.

Nonetheless, I insisted on starting with Book #1 of Capital Crimes. Though it wasn’t the most tightly-plotted mystery story, Murder in the White House was plenty entertaining for the couple days it took to plow through.

You can’t beat the intrigue of the premise, which really propelled me through the whole thing: in the upstairs of the White House, the Secretary of State is murdered. Given the restricted and highly monitored nature of that space, there’s only so many people who could have done it—is it possible that the president himself is a suspect?

I saw the ending coming, but how Truman got us there was still quite satisfying. There’s enough twists and turns to keep you interested, but not so many as to make your head spin.

Though there seems to be some mystery as to how much Truman actually wrote, I love the idea—no matter how mythic—of Margaret recalling her White House days while tapping away at the typewriter. Since her death in 2008, the series has been taken up by a couple other authors—the latest of which just hit my doorstep (which is what prompted my finding the first in the series).

If you need a fun political romp, Murder in the White House is a great pick.
Profile Image for Jeannette.
964 reviews49 followers
March 13, 2018
2.5 stars, rounded up to 3. When I first pondered what a murder mystery written by a daughter of a former president would look like, I wondered what kinds of things a first daughter might want to work out through her murder mystery. If I had continued that thought, I probably would have predicted more of this book. As it was, I suspected the murderer a couple of times, but I was not quite sure.

That's not to claim it was incredibly clever or full of twists. It wasn't, unless you count the delving into random political scenarios for background. I did not love that about it, though I understood the purpose. I think if we were given more emotional and character background, it might have been more engaging. It also took some really dark turns which I didn't especially enjoy. Those, combined with how the book ends, made it feel a little icky at the end: the characters it seemed we were supposed to support end up manipulative and looking out for their own skins. I like the idea of murder mysteries set in my area (because I love my city and I love mysteries!), but this was kind of underwhelming, and I'm not eager to read more anytime soon.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Ryan.
201 reviews2 followers
February 23, 2018
this was a great murder mystery set in our nation's capital, and penned by Margaret Truman, daughter of former US president Harry S Truman. set around a fictional presidency of Robert Webster, his wife Catherine, in his daughter Lynne. the protagonist in investigator is a security guy, and advisor to the president, Ron Fairbanks. the mystery is that Lansard ' Lan' Blaine, the Secretary of State, is found strangled in the Lincoln bedroom. Ron is tasked with the investigation, with high recommendation from the president himself. Ron is a super sleuth, an investigator and former lawyer. the book is very well written and the characters and settings jump off the page given to how much detail was put in this book. it is very descriptive and easy to picture the characters settings include me in the novel.
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