At the start of Tim Sandlin's Honey Don't (Putnam, $24.95), the leader of the free world trips on his thong underwear and fatally smashes his head against a cast-iron flamingo. That launches a kooky chain of events involving the President's mistress (tricky Texas belle Honey DuPont), a coke-addled VP newly drunk with power, a brittle Jazzercise queen-turned-First Lady, and a sad-sack reporter staring down the scoop of his career as they crisscross the nation's capital Rat Race-style to escape the Mob. (I'd explain why, but we'd be here all day.) It's the rare absurdist who can bring to life such a vivid, madcap story with lightning-quick pace, razor-sharp wit, and a huge dollop of soul. But Sandlin, bless his heart, fires on all three cylinders.