Thursday, March 28, 2013

Book Review: Prime Time by Hank Phillippi Ryan (Charlie McNally #1)

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Strong story, likable characters
Cons: Too much reflection early on about age
The Bottom Line:
Loved the characters
And story holds attention
Really fun debut

Debut Definitely Ready for Prime Time

Charlotte "Charlie" McNally knows her job is on the line. As a TV investigative reporter over 40, she must keep finding the best story possible so she isn't canned in favor of a younger and prettier face. And with November sweeps approaching, the pressure is really on.

Which is why Charlie doubly resents being send on "vulture patrol." Even reporters hate going to interview those who have recently lost loved ones. But this case is different. Melanie Foreman's husband Brad was missing for a few days before the police found his body in the wreck of a single car accident. And when Melanie hints that Brad had tried to get in touch with Charlie before he died, Charlie can't resist looking in her e-mail to see what she may have missed.

What she may have missed is a huge story. Brad worked for a pharmaceutical company that is facing a government inquiry into pricing practices. Could Brad have been the whistle blower? What are in the papers he left behind? Can Charlie sort it all out in time to break the biggest story of her career?

Yeah, you've caught me. This book is classified as romantic suspense. Frankly, I think that's a mistake. True, the romance is played up more then in most of the books I read, but most of the books I read do have a romantic sub-plot. The only real give away about the genre is the cover.

That's because the story is strong. The first couple of chapters were a little slow, but once the story got going, it took off and never looked back. I was constantly guessing and then second guessing my guesses. Yet the book reached a logical and satisfying conclusion in a wonderfully done climax. And the plot is truly original and highly modern.

The characters were great as well. Charlie is a strong female with a softer side that she very rarely even lets herself see. Her producer Franklin is warm and makes a great side kick. I really came to care for both of them before the book was over. There are several characters you just love to hate as well.

You can tell that author Hank Phillippi Ryan, herself an investigative TV journalist, is familiar with words. The writing flows so well in this book. This feels more like the work of a polished professional then the debut it is.

The book had one flaw, and it was a big one to me. Charlie spends a lot of time thinking over the fact that she is growing old in a profession that favors the young. It was fine at first, but she kept coming back to it. It got to the point I was literally rolling my eyes whenever the subject came up. Fortunately, about a quarter of the way into the book, the plot took over and the subject was dropped.

Over all, Prime Time is a strong debut that will keep mystery readers turning pages from start to finish. I am eagerly awaiting Charlie's next report.

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