Sunday, March 13, 2016

Book Review: The Newsmakers, by Lis Wiehl

Engaging book. Nylan Hastings, owner of Global News Network (GNN), is intent on dominating the world of news. To that end, he is looking for a "star" who can be the face of GNN. Greg Underwood has uncovered Erica, currently working at a small town New Hampshire station. She is exactly what Nylan wants — young, beautiful, resourceful, anxious to get ahead, intelligent — and she is hired.

Her first assignment is a rare interview with the Duches of Cambridge. But, as she is setting up the interview, there is a horrific ferry crash in view of her cameras. Erica's coverage of that crash makes her an instant celebrity.

Erica's second major catch is an interview with the likely next President of the US, Kay Barrish … who suddenly dies in the midst of the interview and on live TV. Erica's heroic attempts to revive her boost her ratings to the top.

But, something isn't right about all of this. Odd things begin to happen in the office; there are nagging questions about the ferry crash — perhaps it wasn't the result of external terrorist activity; why would a perfectly healthy Presidential candidate suddenly die; seemingly random deaths begin to appear to have some connections. Erica begins to wonder if she is being manipulated for some hidden purpose.

Wieh does a good job of keeping the suspense high, giving just enough information to keep the reader guessing. It's not hard to figure out who the real evil figure is, but who are Erica's friends? There are moments when the dialogue and events are rather cliche-ish — Greg and Erica have been to dinner and a sudden rain chases them into a tight shelter.

The thing that I found very annoying was Wiehl's use of the present tense throughout the book. It makes logical sense, but somehow the story doesn't flow nearly as well.

Though advertised as Christian fiction, there is little really Christian about it. Erica whispers the "Serenity Prayer" on a few occasions. Some of the things that Erica does verge on New Age practices. Erica has a troubled past and wrestles with strongholds in her life. That makes the book more real but she wins by the sheer force of her will, not by help from the Holy Spirit — and sometimes she succumbs to temptation. Read this book as a good fiction story with well-defined evil but rather flawed good. I enjoyed it very much, but it's not a primer on "The Normal Christian Life" (book by Watchman Nee).

(DISCLAIMER: I received a free copy of The Newsmakers from the publisher as a part of their bloggers' book review programme, BookLook Bloggers. I was free to write the review I thought the book deserved and received no compensation apart from continued participation in the programme.)