In this novel, a California TV reporter covers a good Samaritan story while deciding whether to pursue a new relationship or go back to her ex-fiance.
At her fourth-rate Los Angeles local news station, Kate Bradley works the Bummer Beat, covering tragedies and tenaciously getting interviews that other reporters can’t. “Soft” stories are well outside her wheelhouse, yet she gets assigned to cover a woman who finds $100,000 left anonymously on her front porch, in a canvas bag marked only with a slanted figure eight. The story catches the public’s imagination and deepens in mystery as more bags appear on more porches. Who is the good Samaritan, or Good Sam, as he’s dubbed? If he’s trying to help the poor, why are some recipients already rich? And why won’t he come forward? As the story goes nationwide, Kate fends off station politics and people claiming to be Good Sam while also dealing with Jack Hansen, her ex-fiance who’s a wealthy, charismatic businessman. Kate caught him cheating, but he won’t stop trying to get her back. Tracking down possible Good Sams, Kate meets an intriguing new man: Eric Hayes, firefighter and captain of LA County’s Urban Search and Rescue Team. He’s “ruggedly handsome,” but more than that, he puts himself in danger to rescue others. Unraveling the Good Sam mystery will lead Kate to new answers about herself. In her debut novel, Meserve writes a fast-paced mystery/romance that’s well-grounded in the nitty-gritty details of local TV news production. Kate, however, isn’t entirely a sympathetic character. For a woman whose beat is tragedy and despair, she seems overly naïve, slow to realize when she’s being manipulated and too quick to ascribe generous motives. Several plot elements are too neatly slotted into place—Kate’s near drowning, for example—though a final twist adds some tension to the mystery.
Somewhat formulaic but still a solid feel-good romance sparked with mystery.