DEADLINES by Desmond Ryan


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Fearless Reporter exposes villainies of Senatorial Candidate--in this serviceably old-fashioned newspaper-novel, which does manage to touch on several up-to-date media matters. Jimmy Darcy, youngish veteran reporter for the Philadelphia Times-Herald, keeps turning up dirt on Rep. Michael Santini, who's running an implicitly racist race for the Senate; but he also keeps running into opposition from the paper's conservative owners and superficial new executive-editor. (""All the guy cares about is the bottom line and features on fifty places you can shove your houseplant."") First Darcy uncovers a campaign-contribution scam. Next, with secret-informant help from Santini's angry ex-mistress (soon Darcy's new, sexy True Love), he links Santini to a shady real-estate deal--which leads to court hearings when Santini sues for libel. (The reporter's-source issue gets a brief airing.) Then, though Darcy is ordered to drop all Santini investigations, he follows up a small clue offered by another Santini enemy--going to Washington to unearth Santini's worst crime of all: a stock-market-manipulation scheme involving corruption at the FDA and the deliberate hush-up of a fatally defective drug. And finally, in the novel's most original (if least convincing) twist, Darcy and his pals manage to get this story into the paper despite higher-up opposition--by tinkering with the newspaper's new computerized printing/makeup system. Ryan, a Philadelphia columnist and co-author of the amateurish Helix (1979), fills out this thin scenario with newspaper subplots and textures, some of them engaging (jokes about ""Lifestyle"" sections), some merely contrived. (The head of the printers' union is blackmailed--by a corporate vulture with takeover plans--into creating a strike.) He also tries to beef up Darcy as a character by giving him divorced-father troubles and a love of opera. Still, with a villain who's overstocked with dirty secrets and happy endings for all the good guys, this remains a pleasantly predictable melodrama in black-and-white--more back-page than Front Page, but passable entertainment.

Pub Date: Feb. 21st, 1982
Publisher: Norton