In The Know

Capitol Hill staffer-turned-author uses DC as backdrop for mystery novels

Camel Press

It just might be the most #ThisTown death ever: an ultra-powerful Washington lobbyist dies after tumbling off the rooftop of Charlie Palmer Steak. 

Fortunately, the untimely demise at the legendary restaurant is fiction, but it’s the basis for the latest D.C.-based mystery from a Hill staffer-turned-author.

“Every book I try to explore a different part of Washington, D.C., particularly working on Capitol Hill,” says Colleen Shogan. “I thought the one cast of characters that hadn’t played a prominent role in the previous mysteries were lobbyists.”

{mosads}“K Street Killing,” which came out Sunday, aims to fill that void, says Shogan.

The murder mystery is set in July of an election season — much like this month — and centers around Kit Marshall, a chief of staff for a congresswoman locked in a tight reelection race.

After a K Street pro falls to his death during a fundraiser for the lawmaker, Marshall must leap into action and ID the killer before the congresswoman’s campaign goes off the rails.

While she worked in the Senate and will be promoted to an assistant deputy librarian of collections and services at the Library of Congress this fall, Shogan says she had to study up on the lobbying world to pen her latest mystery. Some of her real-life experience on the Hill also came in handy, she says, such as when she covered transportation policy while working as a legislative assistant for then-Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) and took notice of two industry rivals.

“I would get lobbied by the trucking industry. And then the very next day or the same day the railroad industry would come in,” recalls Shogan. “The two industries really didn’t like each other because they were competing for the same pot of money.”

“So when I went to write the book, I decided to make the lobbyists in the book concerning the transportation industry. The victim ends up being someone who works in the trucking industry and one of the suspects is someone who works in the railway industry,” says Shogan.

“K Street Killing” is the fourth in a series of whodunits focused around Capitol Hill, following titles including “Homicide in the House” and “Stabbing in the Senate.”

The 42-year-old author says she’s already lined up her next book’s setting: the United States Botanic Garden.

“I took a walk around there before I started writing that book and I came up with, I think, a really cool scene for a murder,” says Shogan.

For the writer, exploring the nation’s capital can mean plotting her next murder scene.

“It’s a little freaky,” Shogan says with a laugh. “I’ll say, ‘Oh this is a great place to kill someone here.’ [My husband] says, ‘You really shouldn’t say that too loudly because people are going to start to look at you and think you’re weird.’ ”

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