A TV news producer trails a missing woman into Washington, D.C.’s dark regions.
Kovac, herself a TV news producer, writes informatively and convincingly about newsroom procedures, conflicts, and subterfuges in this debut thriller. Away from the studio, however, her hand is less steady. Virginia Knightly has a memory for images, and a photo of a missing woman recalls a video cutaway she has seen. Troubled by the disappearance, Knightly unearths the video and sets out to discover what has become of the woman. Complications, some relevant, beset her. In a power play disguised as a cost-cutting move, she is demoted (this frees her to follow the missing person story) and the dreadful news director brings in a bimbo. A former lover, who may be manipulating her to cover for someone, leads the police investigation; her absent father reappears after 20 years, mortally ill. An assistant U.S. attorney is implicated, then cleared, and eventually the trail leads to a pot of dark money intended to fund shady PACs. Not a bad premise, but incomplete plotting—the dying father, for example, is never revisited; it seems he appears only to provide a mechanism to explain a lost phone—and inconsistent characterization weaken the effort. And while any exploration of power and greed in Washington offers opportunities to reflect on feminist concerns, Knightly’s late assertion that she wanted to help “all the lost women who are flung into a world vaguely hostile to them” isn’t convincing.
Not without some strengths, but it takes more than a good newsroom to produce a good story.