A routine but delightfully breezy over-the-top plotboiler continuing the two-fisted adventures of the Boston Globe’s journalist hero, columnist Jack Flynn.
Having returned from the D.C. environs of The Incumbent (2000) to become the Boston Record’s star investigative reporter, Jack Flynn discovers—within 24 hours—that his newspaper is about to be glommed by cheapskate newspaper sleazemeister Terry Campbell, that there may have been foul play involving the mysterious heart-attack death of the Record’s former publisher when Campbell tried to buy the paper five years ago, and that Massachusetts Governor Lance Randolph, about whom Flynn is preparing a story accusing him of inflating his conviction record when Randolph was a mere district attorney, is going to be the next US Attorney General. A few hours later, Flynn finds himself menaced by nasty gunmen, first on his Boston turf and then in Florida, where he flies off to interview the retired homicide detective who seemingly failed to investigate fully the former publisher’s death. A few hours after that, back in Boston, he finds out that his journalistic mentor, Paul Ellis, has been shot—three times—in the head during what appears to be a bungled robbery in the newspaper’s parking lot. And who should be investigating Ellis’s death but the womanizing police Det. Luke Travers, whose untimely fling with Flynn’s girlfriend Elizabeth Riggs (now working at a rival tabloid) ruined a relationship that had Flynn hearing wedding bells. So much dizzy plotting, plus awkward flashbacks, balky scene shifts (glimpses of Governor Randolph are told in the third person, Flynn’s narrative in the first), and enough red herrings to stock a Boston fish market make this less an exercise in page-turning than a mindlessly fun romp through tough-guy prose parodies.
“The air wasn’t just hot,” Flynn tells us of his trip to Florida. “It was like climbing inside a pig’s anus and sloshing around in his lower intestine.” One wonders how McGrory does his research.