In Seattle, a beloved newspaper’s death coincides with more mysterious sudden deaths.
Around the Seattle Free Press, he’s more often referred to as the columnist, or Mr. Economics Columnist, than by his proper name. He likes that, delights in his importance, relishes the impact his work delivers. It’s clear to him that he has the best job in the world on the best of all possible newspapers, and that he may well be the best possible person for it. Early on, for instance, he confides that an editor impressed by his “poise under pressure” dubbed him “the deadline man.” As usual, pride comes before a fall, which commences with an apparently innocuous interview in the course of which a hedge-fund manager casually asks the columnist what he knows about eleven-eleven. The answer is zero, but not for long. In all its implications and deepening menace, with all its arcane connections to dark and dangerous conspiracies, eleven-eleven is about to become the controlling force in the columnist’s life. He’s stumbled on the kind of story great newspapers exist for—if only his own newspaper lives long enough to print it.
Talton (The Pain Nurse, 2009, etc.) serves up a well-crafted mystery that is also a heartfelt threnody for the journalism that was.