"God. What the hell was she thinking? This woman was so out of her league. She needed to stick with the Liz Burkes of the world—women who gave as good as they got, and never looked much beyond the landscape of their own libidos. They were her ilk. Not Julia. Julia was something else. Julia was like a stray truffle, stuck in a steaming pile of shit beneath one of those Kennett Square mushroom tents. She didn't fit." – Ann McMan, DustThat simile is courtesy of our protagonist, Evan Reed. When Dust opens, Evan agrees to vet a young senator who has ambitions of running for president. Of course, Evan falls deeply in lust with the senator's estranged wife, Julia, and of course the senator is hiding a secret that could scuttle his presidential campaign before it begins. With its swirl of conspiracies and cynicism, Dust could almost be a neo-noir. As with The Big Sleep, the motivations—even the actions—of the shadowy players are unclear; unlike that film, there's no style to compensate for the lack of substance. Also working against the novel's aspirations as a hardboiled thriller is the romance between Evan and Julia, which progresses to undying love in about forty-eight hours, without their—or, sadly, the reader's—knowing why. Caveats aside, this novel is not bad, precisely: a decent three out of five dossiers.