by Cynthia Chow
Details at the end of this review on how to enter to win a copy of Shadow of a Doubt. There is also a link to purchase the book where a portion goes to help support KRL & indie bookstore Mysterious Galaxy.
Since transitioning from sales executive to news reporter for Los Angeles’s KCHC radio station, Carol Childs is always on the hunt for the next hot story. She didn’t expect it to literally land on her doorstep! Carol’s neighbor and friend Samantha Millhouse is frantic and drops the bomb that her aunt Pepper Millhouse, mega-Hollywood-agent-to-the-stars and president of the American Creative Talent agency, has just drowned in her bathtub.
The Queen of Mean had no shortage of enemies in her ruthless climb for power, and unfortunately Sam herself is far from shy about declaring her hatred for her aunt. When Sam’s “evil” twin sister swoops into town loudly announcing to every media outlet that Pepper was murdered, she incites a frenzy within Carol’s own talk radio station. Entertainment news host Kari Rhodes gleefully cites the Hollywood “triaphilia” law that declares that deaths occurs in threes, linking Pepper’s drowning with that of two other bathtub deaths of ACT agency women.
What is enjoyably surprising about this mystery is how it begins as a cozy Hollywood mystery, but becomes something much more. This is a novel of media manipulation, sensationalism, and journalistic ethics. Carol is torn between her duties as a reporter and her loyalty to Sam, whom she believes is being unfairly attacked by the media’s and public’s rushes to judgment. Carol’s news director Tyler Hunt questions her ability to maintain a relationship with FBI agent Eric Langdon, as their professions put them at odds as natural enemies with opposing goals.
The author uses her considerable experience in news and radio to explore moral and professional conflicts facing journalists, as well as the proliferation of sensationalism. Characters are also revealed to be surprising: Carol finds an unexpected supporter, while those people she’d initially trusted prove to have hidden motives. This is a story that builds speed and depth as it progresses, exposing the complexity of journalistic ethics while laying out a labyrinth of a plot that plays fairly with clues but never falls into clichés. With elements that include ambitious Hollywood actresses, a possibly unstable psychic, and incendiary talk-show hosts, this a compelling début mystery delightfully shocks with a truly Machiavellian twisted ending.
To enter to win a copy of Shadow of a Doubt, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “Doubt,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen March 14, 2015. U.S. residents only. If entering via email please include your mailing address, and if via comment please include your email address.
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