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  • A twisting mystery that keeps you guessing

    The Last Scoop is Dick (R.G.) Belsky's latest release, just published today, and the third instalment in his Clare Carlson Mysteries series , preceded by Yesterday's News and Below The Fold (read our review here). I had been waiting for this book since last year, and it didn't disappoint; the writing is as strong as ever, and the twists and turns keep on coming. The formula remains the same, with the story being narrated through Pulitzer Prize winner Clare's eyes, in the first person, as she faces her personal issues and as she chases that next scoop for her newsroom. A fresh murder, an old murder, corruption and an unknown serial killer intersect and keep us guessing throughout as we swiftly turn the pages to get to the next clue (as per the previous offerings, I read this in one sitting). However, two deeper background subjects run through this story which give us some food for thought: guilt and lies. "It was Adolf Hitler who once famously said that the bigger the lie, the easier it was to tell. "People will believe a big lie sooner than a little one", Hitler boasted. I'm not sure I agree though. I believe it is sometimes the little lie, the insidious lie we might not even be aware of until it's too late that can be the most dangerous and damaging and disturbing. Not only because it is so difficult to detect. But because once you find out a person has lied - no matter how small that lie is - you immediately begin to wonder what else they're not telling you the truth about. I mean, if someone lies about one thing that you know about, the odds are pretty good he or she is also lying about a lot of other stuff you don't know. And so - before we even realize it - we find ourselves caught up in an endless cycle of dishonesty and deception." Belsky is very skilful in his effortless narration and his female lead is genuine, flawed and believable, as are the rest of the supporting characters. His experience in the newsroom is evident as he shares its workings and challenges with us. Also, in this instance, as in several of his other novels, the premise for this story is "ripped from the headlines" and it is inspired by a real life crime which has gone unsolved since 1964 for which Mr Belsky asked "what if?"; find out more on 21st May when the author tells us about "Using a real-life crime for mystery fiction". My only gripe with The Last Scoop would be that on a couple of occasions events surrounding Clare's main personal situation were repetitive - verbatim - notably a conversation about motherhood that she has with her friend and confidant, Janet. The fact that Clare has won a Pulitzer also felt a little over-used. Just as with the previous offerings in this series, The Last Scoop can be read as a stand-alone novel, however, be aware that both books reveal significant spoilers in relation to the first book, Yesterday's News, which was initially intended as a self-contained novel, in the fact that they progress Clare's personal storyline which is introduced in book one and which is an integral part of the rest of its plot: although the main mystery will not be spoilt, the overall impact will be less due to the spoilers. My advice would be to read Yesterday's News first, which in my opinion is the strongest book in the series, and then carry on with either of the others; they are all very good reads and you will not regret it! I cannot wait to read the next chapter in Clare's life, Beyond the Headlines, which is due for publication in 2021! Belsky has also been writing a thriller series, Jessie Tucker Mysteries , under the pen-name of Dana Perry; book two, The Golden Girl is due for publication on 8 June 2020, and I cannot wait to check them out. [ARC received via Netgalley]

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  • An investigative journalist goes back to her roots

    I have read and enjoyed a few other books by RL Belsky, so I was happy to be offered a review copy of The Last Scoop, which is the most recent in his newest Clare Carlson series. (The most recent at least until May, when the next title, Beyond the Headlines, comes out…) And I enjoyed this one a lot too. Belsky is himself a journalist, and this shows in the realistic feel of Clare’s newsroom, with squabbling anchors, outside consultants that no one really wants to listen to, and of course, reporters covering all sorts of stories. Clare is herself a former newspaper reporter, now a news director at a TV station, but in The Last Scoop, she reaches back to her roots to personally investigate a case (or is it more than one case?) that she “inherits” when her earliest, first mentor is killed. No one is really thrilled by this – not her boss, who wants her to oversee the news operation rather than running off investigating on her own; not the family of her former mentor, who may be involved; and definitely not her former lover, now working for the FBI, whom she approaches when she figures out she has a lead on a serial murderer. Clare perseveres though, and what follows is a delightful investigative mystery. I really like it when mysteries let us follow along and figure things out along with the protagonist, and that’s what this one does. If I did have any issues with The Last Scoop, it was around one element of Clare’s personal backstory (you’ll know which one I mean when you read it), which seems shoehorned into this book. I get the impression that this storyline was developed in the two previous titles, and so if I had read those, I might feel differently. But instead, I was just a little impatient with it, because I wanted Clare to be out detecting! It wasn’t a big deal, and it didn’t detract too much from my enjoyment, but I sort of kept wondering if maybe this should have just been wrapped up in the previous book. Oh well… All-in-all, though, I really liked The Last Scoop, and will keep an eye out both for the previous two books in the series, and for the next one, coming out soon. As far as a rating, I waffled a little bit on whether to give this 4-stars or 5-stars. But in the end, I decided that if I had read the previous two books, I probably would have felt better about that one bit of ongoing storyline, so I decided to round up: 5-stars it is. And finally, my thanks to Oceanview Publishing and Edelweiss for the advance review copy.

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