In his new novel, Mournful Numbers, Washington attorney Frank R. Goldstein displays a deft way with a brand name. Setting his story in the go-go ’80s of D.C. real estate legend, he works a vein akin to that mined by Tom Wolfe in The Bonfire of the Vanities. There are dissimilarities, of course. Bonfire was set in New York and written by an avatar of literary journalism; Mournful Numbers is a first outing by a former creative writing student who eschewed the chancy prospects of the garret for the semi-guaranteed good life of the law. Nonetheless, Numbers has, as Canadian protagonist Richard Graham would say in his fatuous arrije ne sais quoi. The weaselfest of the shopping mall business, the terrifying struggle of insecure upper-middles to stay abreast of hip clothing labels, the pitfalls of spiritual enlightenment—Goldstein, who is with the law firm Morgan, Lewis and Bockius, knows his turf; he crammed the writing into what holes he could make in a busy schedule, often working in hotel rooms and on airplanes. Numbers is not a great book, but in chronicling dishonorable circumstances, it is an honorable book. Its publisher, E.M. Press, can be reached at P.O. Box 4057, Manassas, VA 22110.