Tabloid by Robin Masters delivered more than I expected. I thought the storytelling was good with just one reservation. There were lots of characters and I had to work to catch up. My efforts took the form of going back, highlighting, and then sometimes going back again. Conspiracy fans will love this. There wasn’t just one conspiracy, but two! True, the first one is ignored for the most part; it just provides background for why Belinda Edmonds is under a heavy cloud of disgrace as a journalist. It seems that she served jail time for some things that happened in London where she was working as a journalist. There is a difference between insightful journalism and inciteful journalism. One of them will put a person in jail which is what happened to Belinda. After returning home to New York, Belinda was able to get a job due to the influence of her rich mother. The job was at the lowest ranks of newspaper writing and a “tabloid” is considered to be near the bottom rung of the newspaper hierarchy but let the healing and the slow climb to respectability for Belinda begin.
Lots and lots of characters suggest lots and lots of subplots but the story retained my interest throughout because of the colorful characters that demonstrate great moral and ethical ambiguity. Bart is a high-flying defense attorney, he doesn’t lose. His client, only one, is the Godfather of the New York mob. One sister is a detective in the New York Police Department (NYPD). His other twin sister is an Assistant District Attorney (ADA) in Philadelphia. Can any reader doubt that there will be conflicts here? Reader suspicion will be heightened when we find out that Bart doesn’t mind getting dirty with some hands-on experience in mob business.
Fans of New York and those thinking moving there will be fun will learn a lot about the city by reading this story. Readers won’t learn much from Belinda because she is a bit of a rich snob. During her pre-London life, Belinda lived in New York and never lacked for anything. She also never visited some of the darker parts of the city, there was no use to do so. Subways are a new experience. And why would anyone shop anywhere other than the high-end boutiques of Fifth Avenue? These are mysteries for Belinda but can be ignored by the down-to-earth reader. There are plenty of other characters that will lead us to the seamier side. Maurice is a benevolent African-American drug dealer controlling a fortune in real estate. His aunt Jeanette is a city councilwoman who establishes a protective shield around Maurice for too inquisitive police. Some police are OK, of course. Those who accept payoffs from Maurice and Jeanette are good cops. Detective Girard is a good cop, we think. There is a possible problem with his father who is on a commission that controls tax valuation for properties in areas of interest controlled by Maurice. Jazel is Girard’s partner and is a lady not to be messed with. Her methods are not to be found in police procedural manuals. She is scary.
There is high-level political corruption. There is internal mob rivalry. There are people too high and protected to be killed … until they are. There is a section of the novel when the bodies are falling too fast to be counted. After becoming invested in the characters, readers will be surprised at who dies. While some of the descriptions are vivid as to methods of termination, there is at least one surprising character who disappears as sort of an afterthought, I definitely did not see that one coming.
This is a fun but dense read. I could not finish it in one day because I got tired trying to trace all the characters. I balanced this read with short stories to relax. It is available on Kindle Unlimited (KU). With a purchase price of USD 5.99, the value of KU becomes more self-evident.