The murder of Riley Hunt is the classic small-town girl meets big city horror story: the beautiful blonde-haired, blue-eyed college student from Ohio is murdered while a student at Easton College in Manhattan, and everyone wants to know why this young woman with such a bright future is dead. Especially Clare Carlson, the news director and reporter at Channel 10 News.
While the supposed killer, a troubled Afghanistan war veteran, is quickly caught, Clare doesn’t believe that that’s all there is to the story, especially when she discovers that Riley’s life was far more complicated than it first appears. Riley was dating two different men; one the son of an New York Police Department deputy commissioner, and one with ties to an underworld boss. Her picture was also posted on an escort service website. And her mother’s reaction to her daughter’s death—choosing to go straight back to work instead of taking time to grieve—makes Clare even more curious.
As a former New York City journalist, the author understands Clare’s world, and his portrayal of Clare is spot-on: She’s tough, savvy, funny, driven, and also flawed. Chasing a story to the detriment of all else, including a life outside of work, is what fuels her; she knows, and is constantly reminded, that she’s only as good as her last scoop. The characters in the newsroom are a mix of their own insecurities, including Clare’s ratings-driven new boss, the bickering married news anchors, and the attractive but unskilled field reporter.
The story moves along at a good clip as Clare uncovers more of the truth and the danger and suspense ratchet up. With Clare in relentless pursuit of the next big story, the reader has to wonder whether what happens to her as a result will become the next breaking news.