Monday, January 18, 2016

Review: The Newsmakers

Summary: TV reporter Erica Sparks has become a superstar overnight. Is it due to her hard work and talent, or is she at the center of a spiraling conspiracy?

Erica Sparks is a beautiful and ambitious reporter who has just landed her dream job at Global News Network in New York. And while it was hard to leave Jenny, her cherished eight-year-old daughter, in the custody of her ex-husband, Erica is determined to succeed in the cutthroat world of big-time broadcasting. She can only hope her troubled past won’t come back to sabotage her dreams.

Although the wounds from her divorce are still fresh, Erica can’t deny the chemistry between her and her new producer, the handsome and empathic Greg Underwood. But a relationship is the last thing she wants right now.

On her very first assignment, Erica inadvertently witnesses—and films—a horrific tragedy, scooping all the other networks. Mere weeks later, another tragedy strikes—again, right in front of Erica and her cameras. Her career skyrockets overnight, but Erica is troubled. Deeply. This can’t just be coincidence. But what is it?

Erica will stop at nothing to uncover the truth. But she has to make sure disaster—and her troubled past—don’t catch up with her first. -- Thomas Nelson

I'm always up for trying a new mystery and/or a new mystery writer; and after seeing Lis Wiehl at this year's BEA (albeit from a distance), I thought it might be fun to read her latest novel THE NEWSMAKERS. This book was written with Sebastian Stuart and tells the story of a young television reports who seems to be in the "right" place at the "right" time.

When Erica Sparks lands her dream job at Global News Network, she is determined to make a name for herself. Her move to New York from a smaller station in a New England state is a second chance of sorts for Erica. She has had a troubled past, including an almost career ending bout with alcohol; and she has lost her husband and custody of her eight year old daughter.

Erica's first assignment is following the Duchess of Cambridge -- not exactly a fluff piece but not a career making assignment either. However, when a horrible accident occurs involving the Staten Island Ferry, Erica and her team are there to get the scoop. She finds herself an instant news celebrity!

Her career is skyrocketing, but Erica's personal life is still in shambles. She misses her daughter desperately and she finds herself attracted to her new producer... not exactly part of her plans to stay on the straight and narrow path and win back her daughter. When another "freak" accident occurs as Erica is covering a story, she begins to wonder if it's a coincidence or something more sinister. She decides to use her investigative reporting skills and dig into the mystery.

I enjoyed THE NEWSMAKERS, but I didn't love it. I was just okay to me. Based on the premise of the novel and the description of the main character, I thought the story sounded fantastic. Maybe my expectations were too high, but I felt as if something was missing from the novel. I had to suspend belief that someone as smart as Erica took so long to figure things out, and I found much of the story to be very predictable.

Having said that, I did find Erica to be an intriguing character. I appreciated that she came to the story with quite a set of baggage! In fact, I probably enjoyed the personal aspects of her story -- the end of her marriage, the loss of her daughter, and her struggle with alcoholism -- more than the mystery/suspense part of the book. I found Erica to be likable, even though she was a little slow at times; and I wouldn't be surprised to see her appear again in a later novel by Ms. Wiehl.

One aspect of this story that I found to be entertaining was the inside look it gave me into the 24 hour news cycle. I have no idea how accurate this portrayal was in THE NEWSMAKERS, but I found it to be interesting. I have no doubt that there is a lot of maneuvering and cut-throat actions by the reporters, and I can only imagine the extent individuals would go to to "get" the story!

THE NEWSMAKERS was a quick read and I appreciated the pace of the story. There were quite a few scenes that were suspenseful, and I would classify it as a page-turner. Recommended to fans of thrillers who also appreciate some complex characters.

Thanks to the publisher for providing a review copy of this novel.

Mystery Mondays is a regular feature where I review all types of mystery books -- traditional mysteries, suspense/thrillers, and even cozies! Please feel free to share your thoughts on any recent mystery books that you've read.


bermudaonion said...

I seem to have more and more trouble suspending disbelief at times like that. I'll have to think about this book.

Stacie said...

I'm reading this one right now and am about half-way through. I think I have had the person that is causing all the problems figured out since the beginning, but will have to wait and see if I am right. It is a bit predictable, but I too like that insiders look into the world of news.