Ratnoff was one of the editors at the Globe, a newspaper man not well liked by anyone. He’s found murdered in his office, an editor’s spike driven deep into his chest, a note impaled between the base and body. It was a two word sobriquet that was Ratnoff’s rarely used praise when he found the occasional piece he liked: “Nice! Who?”
Jude Hurley is the young reporter assigned to cover the case and given orders to walk lightly. Priscilla Bollingsworth is the NYPD detective heading up the case.
The suspects are many. Practically everyone he knew(Hurley is briefly one until his alibi checks out) . A few start to emerge more solidly as the investigation continues.
Ratnoff had been working on some secret project that took him to the basement a lot. Old files were kept there among other things. He was having an affair with the gossip columnist.
Then the second victim turns up: the gossip columnist turned into a wire mummy, encased in rounds of wire by the bundling machine(used to clamp together piles of newspaper), posed as a statue holding a copy of the National Enquirer.
Someone calling himself The Avenger tries to take out an ad quoting from Shakespeare about the second murder. It was flagged because of a stolen credit card and was traced to a computer in the Newspaper building.
It’s becoming increasingly obvious the murders are an inside job. Someone seems to have a mad-on at the newspaper. Things get really hot when a third murder, even more gruesome, happens.
John Darnton was a newspaper man for forty years. He knows the business well and has filled the book with all sorts of characters to epitomize the changing business. The old guard resentful of the internet, cable TV, cell phne photographs, you name it.
The brass young people coming wanting to forge their own path. The celebrity food critic/TV star whose book is being filmed starring Meryl Streep. There’s a rival trying to buy the newspaper and gets quite nasty when rebuffed.
It’s a nice little whodunit that will keep one guessing until the end. And, as one can guess from the title(the old newspaper joke), there is an element of humor running subtly through the book.
The trade paperback(pictured) is out today and highly recommended.