A principled young journalist in the early 1990s tackles the case of her career in Lew’s debut novel.
Newspaper reporter Ariella Richardson meets the handsome, formidable Dr. Sam Becker when she interviews him about his breakthrough research on cervical cancer. Becker has a severe dislike of the media, but Ariella’s honesty, intelligence, and beauty breaks through his reserve. Ariella wants to specialize in women’s health stories and she covets the role of lead reporter on the health beat for the Boston Times. Thanks to her connection with Sam, she finds herself on the trail of two big stories involving the tobacco industry’s funding of cancer research and the horrifying murder of a pregnant woman. An interview with one of Sam’s test subjects leads Ariella to the realization that the murder suspect currently in police custody is likely innocent of the crime—and another doctor involved in Sam’s research may hold the key to finding the real killer. Sam struggles with Ariella’s willingness to place herself in harm’s way, and Ariella must decide whether she’s willing to sacrifice her personal life for her career. Lew’s novel offers a snapshot of several diverse Boston neighborhoods of the 1990s, but she also touches on social issues that are still in the news today, including women’s health, racial bias in law enforcement, and potentially explosive socioeconomic and racial tensions in society. She also highlights how some issues were still debatable in that era, such as whether the human papilloma virus has a connection to cervical cancer. Lew manages to tie several different narrative threads together while keeping the focus on Ariella and her relationship with Sam. Ariella is a spunky character who retains her independence despite Sam’s tendency toward control. Her naïveté, his temperament, and the power dynamic in their relationship smack of a Fifty Shades of Grey-like scenario. That said, Lew resists the urge to let Sam run the show, keeping Ariella at the center of the story.
An often pleasing combination of romance and suspense.