Until a few months ago, Elizabeth “E.M.” Danniher investigated high crimes and national cases. Now, a messy divorce from her network-TV-exec husband, combined with her no-longer-quite-perky-enough sex appeal, has banished her to Wyoming, where she has to fulfill the remainder of her contract. She handles the “Helping Out” segment at Sherman, Wyoming’s only news station. Her latest assignment:assisting an elderly woman who wants her faulty toaster replaced.
But Tamantha needs her, and so Elizabeth goes back on the crime beat, trying to unravel the mystery of the missing deputy and track down a killer who intends to make sure she doesn’t live to go Live At Five with the scoop.
Is it any wonder that an author who has spent decades as a newspaper editor can write so convincingly about reporters? I would think not. And in this first in a new series of stories, Ms McLinn has brought us into the life of a woman who thought she had it made in the shade. A marriage to a TV network executive, a top-rated national exposure due to years and years given over to a demanding career–both fell apart and left her hung out to dry. Now she’s working off the remainder of her contract in a Podunk TV station in Wyoming as a special interest kind of reporter who investigates scams and problems that folks can’t seem to get anyone else to care about. It was one of those helpless and hopeless persons who called her, only this person was the young daughter of a man who had been accused of murdering the local sheriff’s deputy. Even being released because of lack of evidence didn’t solve anything. And because there was no clear absolving of his guilt, he is now kept apart from the daughter he adores. It is also the circumstance that brings Thomas David Burrell into Elizabeth’s life–a recalcitrant and undemonstrative man who has deep feelings and old wounds. But most of all he loves his daughter. And she loves her daddy.
“You’ve got to prove my Daddy didn’t kill anybody,” second grader Tamantha Burrell tells KWMT-TV’s consumer affairs reporter, New York transplant Elizabeth Danniher.
“Now wait a minute . . . ” the startled journalist begins.
“You’re the ‘Helping Out’ lady,” Tamantha insists. “You have to help me.”
And so begins a journey of re-discovery for this intrepid woman who needs to reclaim who she is apart from all the glitz and glamour of the broadcast media, heal from the wounds of a divorce gone terribly bad, and re-embrace the investigative reporter that lives within her–a woman who can think outside the box, who can puts clues together, and who has the instincts that will lead her ultimately to solving this crime.
This is a novel about reaffirmation of one’s true self. And as Elizabeth allows her inner self to emerge she also realizes that she can be authentic in her judgments about her co-workers, about those who seem to want to be her friends, and about the two men who come into her life and begin friendships with her. This is one of those complex mysteries that will yank the reader all over kingdom come. It’s the kind of story that will never allow the reader to get even a small smell of where the story is going and who the bad guy really is. It’s also the story of the wonder Elizabeth experiences as she repeatedly realizes that she really can re-connect with that investigative reporter who dug for clues and who couple put murder mystery puzzles together. There are lots of wonderful moments in this novel and it is one of those reads that made me feel like I had done myself a favor for having taken the time to read it. Believe me, this wasn’t a book one could skim or speed read and make any sense out of it. It was the kind of book that grabbed your imagination and didn’t turn loose until the last word had been read.
I hope you will pick up this book and give it a good chance to entertain you, especially if you are a mystery fan with a little bit of romance mixed in. Really fantastic read, really fantastic story, and I happily give it a 4.5 out of 5.
You can read more from Judith at Dr J’s Book Place.