Dan Janison Melville. N.Y. Tuesday January 26, 2010. Daniel Janison,

Dan Janison has been a columnist at Newsday since 2007.

Sure, there was concern that Eliot Spitzer, once the hookers were discovered, would commit suicide and, of course, he did not. Yes, there was talk that he should undergo treatment for sex addiction, and, sure, there was the dramatic phone call to his longtime friend and colleague, breaking the news he had to quit, which began the final 61 hours of his administration.

All this is in the "Journal of the Plague Year," Lloyd Constantine's chronicle of what the subtitle bills as the "short and tragic reign" of his friend and protégé Spitzer. Constantine recalls Spitzer's wife, Silda, at lunch a year before, posing the prescient question, based on the governor's odd behavior: "Who is this guy?"

But when reached in India where he was traveling Friday, Constantine, 63, who was raised in Nassau County and attended Herricks High School, played down the purportedly racy stuff when asked why he wrote the book, and what he thought of reaction so far.

"I certainly accomplished what I wanted - to write an honest book that would inform the public," he said. "The 61 hours chapter is roughly 25 pages out of a 290-page book. Most of it is devoted to the budget, to Troopergate, licenses for undocumented immigrants, judicial compensation for state judges." He criticizes the farcical character of a transition he helped lead and the closed fiscal process that was supposed to have been open.

The timing of the book's release is intriguing: Two years after Spitzer's implosion, just as its aftereffect is seen in the deteriorating administration of his hand-picked successor, David A. Paterson.

Here is a reminder of the tragic opera that preceded the comic opera now unfolding on the second floor of the Capitol, the domain of the governor's office. (Or is that the other way around?)

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In public life, the way things look at one moment can certainly change in a very short time.

Constantine states on page 182 that Spitzer might have implicitly let Paterson, his lieutenant governor, know he'd become U.S. senator to succeed Hillary Rodham Clinton when the time came. But he says, "I doubt he would have appointed him . . . even without the painful hindsight of a Paterson governorship."

Constantine also makes it clear he was no fan of Attorney General Andrew Cuomo - or his work on Troopergate. Constantine also scorches the "undistinguished inner circle" that surrounded Spitzer, an administration in which he, as adviser, seemed to occupy an outer orbit.

Whatever you think of Constantine or the story once you flip its pages, his memoir has a unique stamp because of the way their relationship began. The Ivy-educated Spitzer was Constantine's intern in 1982 in the state attorney general's office - then occupied by Democrat Robert Abrams.

Constantine writes that Spitzer picked Paterson even though he wasn't convinced Paterson would make a good replacement for him.

That's a major point with big meaning right now.