Author: Mary Louise Kelly
Length: 342 pages
Plot Basics: New England Chronicle reporter Alexandra James is assigned to cover the apparent suicide of Thom Carlyle, son of a White House attorney. As she pursues the story, Alex (and the cops) begin to suspect that the death isn’t so clear cut. Alex investigates across the pond and into the depths of the White House and as the parts of the story come together, she becomes a new target.
Banter Points: I think NPR needs to start requiring all of their people (or former people, as in Mary Louise Kelly’s case) to write books. Scott Simon’s “Windy City” was fabulous and Bob Edward’s book on Edward R. Murrow is also good and now another NPR correspondent has made the successful leap from reporter to novelist.
Alex is a great character. She’s got a past that explains her drive and Kelly did a great job of trickling that information out at the right time to keep the reader interested and not have it feel info-dumpy. Her relationship with her editor, Hyde, was priceless.
Hyde is a good segue to talk about the rest of the characters. All the characters in the novel are big, almost to being over-the-top, but not quite. Hyde’s temper and penchant for drinking the office and Lucien Sly’s pervasive charm are gigantic character traits, but in a book with a plot as big as this one, it works.
Bummer Points: The end of the last chapter seemed to carve a big window in the Fourth Wall to me.
And the name, Lucien Sly. I can’t say more without a spoiler, but given who he is and what he does, the name just makes me laugh. It also makes me think of my short story where I wrote a character as Dr. NAME for a long time while trying to decide his name, until I reached the point where he became Dr. Naem because that’s who he was in my head now. I could help but wonder if the same thing might have happened with Lucien.
Word Nerd Recommendation: I’ve already convinced the security guard at work to check this book out. You should too.