Book Review: The Last Scoop by R.G. Belsky
R.G. Belsky certainly knows his way around a newsroom. Former managing editor for NBC News, his portrayal of a brilliant, driven journalist who’s found herself promoted out of actually reporting the news to managing it is genuine and compelling. Clare never comes out and says it, but she’s obviously never happier than when she’s chasing down a story.
The story begins with the death of Clare’s old mentor, Marty, shortly after they had a conversation where Marty dropped a few tantalising hints about a big story he was chasing. The circumstances of Marty’s death raise Clare’s suspicions and she can’t quite help herself looking into his research. Which leads down some unexpectedly deep rabbit holes and, eventually, to not one but two of the biggest stories of her life.
This is a well-written story with an amazing flavour of realism about the journalism aspects of it. That said, I did honestly think it read like two different books; although the two stories were linked by more than just Clare’s involvement in them, they were quite different in tone and I feel like both would have benefitted from being given a full book to tell each of the two stories. There’s already a story from a previous book referenced multiple times here; since this is a series, I don’t quite see why one of them couldn’t have been carried forward to another book. As things stand, it felt like neither quite got the full justice done to them.
I also feel uncomfortable about a principal female character who is professionally successful but a disaster in her personal life, as written by a male author. It feels like a judgement that women actually can’t have it all... and that assessment made by a man feels pretty icky. I liked Clare, but she was a harsh judge of herself. I’d have liked her better if she was perfectly happy in who she was and confident in her choice not to have personal relationships, or to simply have sex without entanglements. There are plenty of professional women who choose their careers and don’t make excuses about it to themselves.
This has some really great writing and a solid premise, but I feel like in the hands of a firm editor it could have become two excellent books instead of one I feel a bit ambivalent about. I’ll give it three stars.
Disclaimer: I received a review copy of this title via NetGalley.