Another Review at MyShelf.Com

Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press 
Release Date: July 2003 
ISBN: 1590580591 
Format Reviewed: Hardcover 
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Genre: Mystery 
Reviewed: 2003
Reviewer: Kristin Johnson 

Reviewer Notes: Review One

Reviewer, Kristin Johnson, is the author of CHRISTMAS COOKIES ARE FOR GIVING, co-written with Mimi Cummins. Her third book, ORDINARY MIRACLES: My Incredible Spiritual, Artistic and Scientific Journey, co-written with Sir Rupert A.L. Perrin, M.D., will be published by PublishAmerica in 2004.

By Mark Arsenault

     Getting thrown in a Massachusetts canal after chasing a Cambodian woman with red mittens (a motif like "Rosebud" or the red coat in "Schindler's List") to a slum triple-decker that explodes in fire helps to clarify priorities for small-time-newspaper Lowell Empire reporter Eddie Bourque. Somehow, chasing down politicians fighting to rule a dying industrial town, fretting over your ex getting married, being reminded by a TV rival that you've taken a step down in your career, and having to deal with an officious editor pale in comparison to discovering the truth behind the death of your competitor, who could have been your friend if you weren't busy watching the byline.

     When Eddie's fellow reporter Danny Nowlin is found in the local canal, it's only a matter of time before Eddie's refusal to let sleeping dogs lie lands him in the same canal. It also introduces him to two "Trainspotting"-like junkies, Leo and Gabrielle, who rescue him and remind him why he became a reporter. Unfortunately, the officious Franklin Keyes "spikes" the story Eddie lands, when he's not busy burying any coverage of Danny Nowlin's death and other stories that might cause voters to lose faith in the incumbents for the upcoming city elections. The Lowell Empire has a vested interest in keeping the status quo. Did someone say media bias? The political corruption of special interests in the city of Lowell, Massachusetts would make California Governor Gray Davis blush.

     Arsenault's Eddie emerges as a muckraker, scorning the scribes and Pharisees in favor of the Cambodian warrior woman and survivor of the Khmer Rouge Chanthay, Leo and Gabrielle, and two New York City hit men assigned to kill Chanthay and Eddie. He also makes allies of the geek Stan Popko, "direct from his mother's basement," and the hypochondriac Boyce Billips, as well as his TV reporter rival Chuck Boden, from whom he learns home truths. Arsenault adds persistent cop Lucy Orr, Samuel Sok, a Cambodian war criminal disguised as a benefactor, Chanthay's vendetta against Sok, a love triangle and a surprise twist on Danny's death to a smart, multilayered tale.