HIDDEN AGENDA by Thom Racina


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 Annoying, manipulative tale of annoying, manipulative media moguls who lie, cheat, steal, and murder to further the career of their trusting, naive star TV reporter. This third novel from Racina (Snow Angel, 1996, etc.) decries the trashy sensationalism and dumbing-down of TV news by offering generous helpings of what the author presumably despises, on pages spattered with names of the rich, famous, or merely good-looking. Beautiful, competent CNN twinkie Jonelle Patterson is selected from the ranks of budding TV talking heads by the oafish trio of sleazy suits that runs the fledgling all-news Network ONE cable channel. A mother of two, married to a dashing airline pilot (who's also a whiz at editing videotape) and a devoutly fundamentalist Christian (her father-in-law is a professor at Pat Robertson's Regent University), Jonelle is to be groomed as the ``domestic Christiane Amanpour'' by Barney Keller, her balding, vulgarian Yiddish-slinging boss. Keller, with his cronies on the Christian Right and his Republican friends, steer Jonelle toward one high- profile assignment after another, during which grotesquely violent accidents, inexplicable deaths, and outright murders occur just as she unpacks her microphone. Jonelle's witless eyewitness accounts of so many fortuitous disasters effortlessly boost the ratings of her one-woman newsmagazine, but it takes the artful videotape manipulation of perfect husband Steve to discover that, lurking in the background of every scene she covers, is a man with a gold ring on his hand. After about 150 pages of such nonsense, the Pattersons learn that these murders are part of a conspiracy, orchestrated by the GOP and the Christian Right, to transform Jonelle into a God-fearing presidential candidate for the 2008 election. Finally, after twice saving the life of Hillary Clinton, Steve and Jonelle have to race against probability and healthy skepticism to take their story to competing networks. Painfully bad.

Pub Date: Jan. 12th, 1998
ISBN: 0-525-94031-6
Page count: 368pp
Publisher: Dutton
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1st, 1997