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BLACK AND WHITE AND DEAD ALL OVER by John Darnton Kirkus Star

BLACK AND WHITE AND DEAD ALL OVER

By John Darnton

Pub Date: July 31st, 2008
ISBN: 978-0-307-26752-8
Publisher: Knopf

Who killed the editor? A venerable New York newspaper becomes a crime scene in this multifaceted, gloriously entertaining thriller from Pulitzer-winning journalist Darnton (The Darwin Conspiracy, 2005, etc.).

Nobody liked Ratnoff. Not only was the usage editor a petty tyrant, he had the goods on the entire staff. Still, it was a shock to see his murdered corpse in the Globe newsroom, with a note using one of his pet phrases. An inside job, from the looks of it. Jude Hurley is assigned to the case. This reporter has the tenacity of a pit bull, but his dedication will cost him his relationship with his girlfriend. His NYPD opposite number is Detective Priscilla Bollingsworth, a no-nonsense divorcée; their initial wariness develops into mutual respect. There’s an intriguing lineup of suspects. Star reporter Edith Sawyer was about to be fired by Ratnoff for plagiarism. Head of security Engleheart, once a rogue cop, might have known Ratnoff was overseeing a big story on police corruption. There’s even dirt on Jude’s good buddy O’Donnell, an embittered old-timer. Before there are answers there’s a second murder. Gossip columnist Peregrin Whibbleby has been dismembered by a wire newspaper bundler. There’s a campy, tongue-in-cheek aspect to these murders, but it in no way detracts from the excitement or lessens our dread at the climaxes. While the publisher, Elisha Hagenbuckle, a posturing dolt, gets the full-bore satirical treatment, and his tabloid rival Moloch, the conniving New Zealander, is an out-and-out villain, the working journalists are depicted with respect and affection, whether on the job or swapping hilarious anecdotes over drinks. Before we are done there will be a third murder, two suicides, a skeleton bursting out of Hagenbuckle’s closet and an attempted coup by Moloch.

Tingling suspense powered by Darnton’s love for his battered profession.