Author: Lis Wiehl with Sebastian Stuart
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
REVIEW OF ARC COPY
As I watch some of the news broadcasts and read various newspapers on and offline, I often wonder if the journalists are actually reporting an event or are trying to create one?
In Lis Wiehl's latest novel, The Newsmakers, the protagonist, Erica Sparks was working at a small New Hampshire television station when she receives a tremendous opportunity for field reporter at Global News Network (GNN) in New York City. It should be mentioned that prior to working in New Hampshire, Erica was employed at at WBZ in Boston where she was fired due to her drug addiction, something she is not too proud about and which she conveniently forgets to mention to her new employer, although it was of public record.
Upon arriving at work for the first time, Erica is greeted by her executive producer and designated mentor, Greg Underwood, who previously had told her during her interview with him that he is going to make her a star. Incidentally, Erica and Greg not only hit it off as work colleagues but there also seems to be a romantic spark between them.
Just the thought of working for this important television station has Erica thinking about all that she will be able to accomplish particularly building a new life for herself and her daughter, Jenny. Erica is divorced and her husband has sole custody of Jenny, which may change if she succeeds in her new employment.
Erica's first assignment is to interview Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge who will be arriving in New York for a short visit which is timed to coincide with the opening of the Turner exhibition at the Frick Museum. The interview is to take place at Battery Park where the Duchess will be having lunch hosted by the Anglo-American Alliance.
Just before Erica is about to meet the Duchess she hears screams coming from the Staten Island ferryboat as it heads full steam out of control toward its berth in the terminal. Immediately, Erica seizes the moment and begins to report the tragedy that will claim kill and injure several passengers. And although the event is quite tragic, it nonetheless has provided Erica with quite a push in quickly moving her career up the ladder.
After she reads the official report concerning the ferry accident, Erica discovers that the incident was due to a malfunction causing the ferry's computer to freeze up. Erica questions the findings and wonders if it could in fact be an act of cyberterrorism?
Unfortunately, Erica is discouraged from pursuing the story and moreover, it is given over to Claire Wilcox who has considerable clout at GNN as she hosts one of the most popular shows at the station bringing in considerable advertising revenue. Erica suspects that the owner of GNN, Nylan Hastings, “a creepy fellow,” is behind the back stabbing. Apparently, Underwood likes to pit people against each other and even plays mind games. Nonetheless, Erica is still determined to pursue the investigation on her own and decides to approach her employer's computer and Internet guru, Mark Benton for assistance in helping her determine if there had been some devious operation that caused the ferry to crash.
Erica's second assignment is to interview Kay Barrish who has presidential aspirations and a woman who would be unbeatable if she does run for the presidency of the USA. Through some clever manoeuvring with Barrish's mother, Erica was able to land her meeting with her. Here once again, however, Erica, from a journalistic point of view, seems to be at the right place and right time wherein another tragedy occurs. Just as the interview begins, Barrish begins to sweat, makes a choking sound and collapses to the floor. Frantically, Erica tries to revive Barrish by applying CPR but to no avail. It was later revealed that Barrish had been poisoned.
Who poisoned her and was it just a coincidence that Erica was once again able to make headlines are the unanswered questions? Erica is now determined to get to the bottom of these events and consequently embarks on a quest that will lead to a series of dangerous threatening situations which will not only affect her but also some of her work colleagues.
On the whole the novel is not a bad read particularly that Wiehl with her experience and knowledge as a journalist was able to provide a strong sense of atmosphere. Where I felt the novel faltered was its predictability from the midpoint onwards. I was waiting for a final twist that would deepen the plot considerably and this never materialized. On the other hand,Wiehl and Stuart display a potent facility with language, setting and character that all contribute to maintaining the reader's interest.
A complimentary copy of Newsmakers was sent to me in exchange for an unbiased review.