A Washington novel, yes–but the senator’s secret CIA-related investment really happened, and so did a deadly building collapse

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 corrupt 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.

This 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 ridden with tragedy. Margo Danialson, B.A. in medieval studies, is unhappily tethered to a crooked bureaucracy.

Dr. Rebecca Kitiona-Fenton, a multiracial feminist, outspokenly annotates the newspaper memoir of her white great-granduncle, Jonathan Stone.

The second edition of Scandals contains a revealing essay on historical connections, underscoring David H. Rothman’s reporting leading to a Congressional investigation and NBC and ABC exposés. Supreme Court ethics controversies make Scandals especially timely. Rothman’s chilling story intertwines 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.

James Fallows, the author of Breaking the News, said of the first edition: “The Solomon Scandals is a mordantly entertaining book that broadens the cast of the standard Washington novel beyond spymasters and politicians to include real estate barons and federal contract officers.”

Available via independent bookstores, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, the Apple Store, Kobo, and others. The foreword and first chapter are here. These links all lead to pages for the second edition.

Update: An experimental audiobook, now selling for just $2.99, is just out. “Marcus” lacks the expressiveness of a talented human narrator but is still pleasant listening. Just the ticket for the road, the gym or other times when you can’t enjoy a print or ebook edition