More interested in the bloodless crimes committed in country club dining rooms and at private school parties ... For its merciless humor and brazen exposure of salon secrets, 'The Cave Dwellers' should join that small collection of essential Washington books. And don’t worry if you haven’t recently visited — or stormed — the Capitol. Between chapters, McDowell provides potted explanations of Embassy Row, Washington Life Magazine, Cafe Milano — everything you need to follow along this new-old vanity fair ... But if the melody of 'The Cave Dwellers' is satire, its baseline is sorrow. That sometimes produces a strange clashing of tones, as though the author is still recovering from her own trauma while mocking her old peers.
McDowell’s mordant debut novel sends up the Washington, D.C., establishment ... While the drama is thick, the characters all hew closely to type (and to one another), with mothers bedecked in diamonds and Hermès scarves, and the fathers largely only distinguishable from one another by their professions and crimes. The flat characterizations don’t make for high literature, but the satire cuts deep.