What You See by Hank
Phillippi Ryan blends suspense, humor, and issues of the day.
With multiple storylines told by numerous narrations, readers
come to understand the workings of a crime scene. These sub-plots
include murder, child abduction, and treachery. Also explored
are the characters loyalties, having to decide between family
and their career.
As with all Ryan’s books Jane Ryland investigates a
story while Detective Jake Brogan is solving a crime, bringing
both together by the end of the story. The plot begins with
Jane having quit a job based upon principle. She interviews
for a new job with Channel 2 and is given the task of covering
a stabbing in Curley Park, Boston. Once again Jane is put
into a position of covering a case her boyfriend Jake is investigating.
Ryan noted, “Both Jake and Jane are honorable, determined,
search for the truth, and believe in justice. In real life
there must be a hard line between a law enforcement officer
and a reporter, each has a job to do, and each have to protect
their interests, their information, and their investigations.
But Jake and Jane sometimes cross that line. So what I love
about my books is that Jane and Jake in their professional
lives are incredibly honorable, but in their personal lives
their passion has sometimes overruled their professionalism.
Throughout all the books they are trying to figure out how
to deal with that ongoing struggle. What will happen to their
relationship or how they will deal with it going forward?
I have no idea. It’ll be fun to find out.”
The plot insightfully explores the current issue of privacy.
With cameras everywhere, including in cell phones, on buildings,
and on streetlights, can a crime be easily solved? A powerful
quote says, “Life never just happened anymore. Memories
had to be indelible, every event captured. And shared.”
Because the murder takes place in front of City Hall there
must be some surveillance. But this video leads into a dark
conspiracy where what you see is not always as it seems.
Having to deal with the political fallout from City Hall Camera
Surveillance, Catherine, the Mayor’s Chief of Staff,
must juggle her job responsibilities with her family. Something
any parent can relate to is this powerful quote, “Geographically,
her daughter was inches away. Emotionally? Right now, Catherine
didn’t have time to fix it.” But Jane also had
a conflict between family and her job. While investigating
the crime, her sister calls asking for help in finding her
future stepchild who appears to be abducted. Ryan vividly
writes how Jane is being pulled in multiple directions, forced
to switch tasks and put family first. Interestingly when asked
hypothetically the title of a future autobiography Jane responds,
The Juggler. It is fitting since she must decide when to put
family ahead of her job, something most people struggle with
Readers will also be amused with some of Ryan’s well-placed
humor. In a scene there is definitely a take off on the famous
“who is on first, what’s on second” skit.
More than anything the humorous interludes allows for a relief
from the tension packed story.
Besides humor, What You See has believable plots based upon
Ryan’s experiences as a television investigative reporter
who has won over thirty Emmys. Readers become enthralled and
engaged with a story that has a hectic pace involving child
abduction, murder, surveillance, and political secrets.