HARD NEWS by Mark T. Sullivan


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 A convoluted and cluttered journalistic thriller done in by a bloated storyline: a second novel from the author of The Fall Line (1994). Once a rising talent at The Post, a southern California daily, Gideon McCarthy is now forced to cover the graveyard beat. McCarthy's sin? Three months ago, he plagiarized a story. Now, though, his chance for professional redemption takes the form of a murdered hooker. At first, a mysterious serial killer is blamed, but McCarthy discovers that the woman had been testifying to a grand jury about police officers coercing prostitutes for sex. He digs further, uncovering evidence that appears to implicate two cops in the murder. McCarthy breaks the story, the cops are arrested, and he's back on top. Later, however, McCarthy is convinced that the two officers, now facing murder one charges, are innocent. Meanwhile, fellow Post reporter Prentice LaFontaine is on the trail of suspicious business dealings by Sloan Burkhardt, a real-estate developer recently awarded a contract to build a huge office complex. LaFontaine uncovers numerous irregularities in Burkhardt's business and personal life, including a proclivity toward violence, sexual and otherwise. Burkhardt is also connected to a group of unsavory political deal-makers. When LaFontaine is murdered, McCarthy realizes that the dead hooker and LaFontaine's investigation are somehow related. Protagonist and reader are then carried into the all-too-familiar arena of corruption and sexual misdeeds as practiced by the rich and powerful. Interspersed throughout is an attempt to present the Big Picture at The Post, though it soon devolves into a cataloguing of the many sexual, emotional, and addictive problems experienced by the paper's reporters and editors--a wealth of information that refuses to pan out into something larger or tension-creating. Uninspired if workmanlike when focused on McCarthy and LaFontaine, but a real trudge for the other 200 pages.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1995
ISBN: 0-8217-5125-5
Page count: 386pp
Publisher: Kensington
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1st, 1995


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