Review by Publisher's Weekly Review
Hamill (North River) forays into Dominic Dunne society crime territory before veering uncomfortably into a far-fetched terrorist plot. Just as the last ever edition of the New York World is getting put to bed, veteran editor Sam Briscoe stops the presses for a sensational murder: socialite Cynthia Harding and her personal secretary are found stabbed to death in Harding's Manhattan town house. The story unfolds in time-stamped, you-are-there bursts that follow a large cast, including several journalists; Cynthia's adopted daughter; a disgraced Madoff-like financier; a media blogger; the murdered secretary's husband, a police officer assigned to a counterterrorism task force, as well as their son, a convert to radical Islam; and best of all by the weary and worldly Briscoe himself. Hamill is at his best in the Briscoe portions, rich in print anecdotes and mournful for a passing age, but as both the initial murders and the closing of the paper play into a larger plot and the young extremist becomes the driving force of the novel, the quality slides precipitously, and, as if sensing defeat, the book is brought to a too abrupt conclusion with most of the principals gathered for a group of scenes that strain credulity. Hamill nails the dying newsroom, but gets lost on the terrorism beat. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Review by Kirkus Book Review
The veteran newspaperman and novelist (North River, 2007, etc.) couples a lament for a dying tabloid culture with a cockamamie plot about the murderous rampage of a jihadist; it doesn't work.Few writers know the newspaper business as intimately as Hamill; he has reported for and edited New York tabloids. So we feel in safe hands as we enter the newsroom of the fictionalNew York Worldin this winter of the Great Recession. Our guide is 71-year-old Sam Briscoe, editor in chief. He's the novel's center of gravity as it cycles through some 14 different viewpoints. Hamill uses broad strokes for a big canvas. There's Cynthia Harding, the love of Sam's life, a philanthropist in the Brooke Astor mold who's hosting a fundraising dinner for the library; her black secretary, Mary Lou; Mary Lou's husband Ali, an anti-terrorist cop; the almost blind artist, Lew; the office cleaner Consuelo, who Lew painted years before in Mexico. They're all connected to the rest of the large cast. The contrivance is brazen, but less disconcerting than Ali's son Malik, a would-be street criminal who needs money for his very pregnant teenage girlfriend. He's also a spiritual brother to the 9/11 terrorists; his thoughts are one long rant, a collection of scraped-together clichs. In due course, besides knocking off an imam, he will murder his mother Mary Lou and her "slave owner" Cynthia. Back at the World, the murders feed "the tabloid joy of murder at a good address." It's a good, knowing line, and could have been the trigger for a more focused, credible work. As it is, the joy is clouded by the news that the publisher is closing the paper, moving it online, and also by Sam's anguish over Cynthia's death. Hamill ratchets up the melodrama with a climactic confrontation at a mosque turned disco between Malik, now wearing a Semtex vest, and his father.A wasted opportunity to memorialize the tabloids through fiction.]] Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
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