Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Black and White and Dead All Over-John Darnton

Black and White and Dead All Over
John Darnton
Knopf, Jul 2008, $24.95
ISBN 9780307267528

The New York Globe is in deep trouble financially with ads and circulation dropping dramatically and consequently the stock price is falling. However, that is no reason for someone to murder odious assistant managing editor Theodore S. Ratnoff; whose corpse is found in an office of the paper.

NYPD Detective Priscilla Bollingsworth and Globe's investigative reporter Jude Hurley join forces to find the killer. The problem is almost everyone working at the Glove had the motive including Jude because Theodore took pleasure in humiliating anyone and everyone. The list expands as bad cops, a reporter accused of plagiarism and a disgraced by the deceased executive editor have motives and opportunities. The inquiry spins even uglier and more complex when a Globe’s gossip columnist and a food critic are killed.

BLACK AND WHITE AND DEAD ALL OVER is a wonderful whodunit in which the cleverly designed case and the news milieu make for powerful social observations on what and how get printed regardless of the medium. Priscilla and Jude are a fine pairing as their professions insure mutual distrust, but need each other to thoroughly investigate who likes to contribute to the obituary column. John Darnton provides a strong entertaining murder mystery with solid hooks at society’s hypercritical foibles.

Harriet Klausner