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Seasoned investigative reporter Charlotte McNally knows that in the cutthroat world of television journalism, every story could be your last. There’s always someone younger and prettier to take your place, always a story more sensational to drive ratings through the roof.
When Brad Foreman’s widow demands to know why Charlie never answered his email, Charlie is confused. She never received his message. What did Brad, an accountant at a pharmaceutical company, want to tell her? As she searches through her computer, she finds an innocent-looking email in her junk mail folder that may turn out to be the biggest story of her career.
Is the encoded email--and the ones that follow--linked to Brad’s “accidental” death? Charlie’s investigation leads her to Brad’s friend, professor Josh Gelston, who is charming and exceedingly helpful--perhaps suspiciously so.
Charlie must decide if she can trust Josh…before a multimillion-dollar fraud ring with murder in its arsenal makes her the next lead story.
About the Author
HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN is the investigative reporter for Boston's NBC affiliate, and has won thirty-two Emmys and ten Edward R. Murrow Awards. The Boston Globe bestselling author of the Charlotte McNally series (Prime Time, Face Time, Air Time), Ryan has won two Agatha Awards, in addition to the Anthony, Macavity, Daphne du Maurier, and Mary Higgins Clark Award. She is on the national board of directors of Mystery Writers of America and Sisters in Crime.
Read an Excerpt
By Hank Phillippi Ryan
Tom Doherty AssociatesCopyright © 2009 Hank Phillippi Ryan
All rights reserved.
Between the hot flashes, the hangover and all the spam on my computer, there's no way I'll get anything done before eight o'clock this morning. I came in early to get ahead, and already I'm behind.
I take a restorative sip of my murky-but-effective vending machine coffee, and start my one-finger delete. Away go the online offers for cheap vacations, low refinancing rates and medicine from Canada. Adios to international driver's licenses and work-at-home moneymaking schemes.
At least I'm not the only one here. Downstairs in the newsroom, overcaffeinated producers working the graveyard shift click intently through the wires, scanning their computers to find stories for the noon newscast. The sleek new anchorwoman, Ellen Cavenagh, doesn't have to be in her chair for the local news update until 8:24, so the "new face of Channel 3," as the promos brand her, is probably in her dressing room perfecting the shimmer level of her lip gloss.
Ellen's essentially a supermodel with reading skills, and I applaud anyone who can come out so cover girl so early in the morning. But as the station's investigative reporter, I spend most of my time tracking down sources and digging through documents. As a result, I don't always have to look TV -acceptable.
Good thing. At forty-six, it's possible my "hot flashes" owe more to the station's eccentric heating system than to a sudden dive in hormones. But facing reality, facing the camera takes a lot more time than it did twenty years ago. And considerably more makeup. Still, as long as they're not calling me "the old face of Channel 3," I figure I'm in the clear.
Today I'm planning total off-the-air mode. My usually high-maintenance hair is twisted up with a pencil and I'm on a hell-or-high-water mission — come up with a blockbuster story so Channel 3 will win the November ratings contest and I can keep my job.
I was initiated into ratings worship my first day at the station. Back then I was very eighties in my high-necked blouse and cameo brooch. Big eyebrows. Big shoulders. Big dreams.
"Here's a course they don't teach you in J-school," my news director said, gesturing me into his office. "Bottom Line 101: TV News Is Not All About Journalism — It's All About Money." Then he clicked open a computer spreadsheet, revealing a screen filled with tiny numbers.
"These are 'the overnights,'" he intoned.
I remember thinking: Who's staying overnight? Luckily, he continued before I could actually ask such a naively newbie question.
"The overnight numbers arrive electronically every morning," he went on. "They show us how many viewers watched each newscast the day before. It's a contest. Whichever TV station gets the highest viewership ratings gets to charge the highest rates to advertisers."
He nodded, narrowing his eyes, and pointed to me.
"You win — especially the all-important November ratings — and you're in the money," he pronounced. "You lose, you're a goner."
As it turned out, he's the one who's gone, but I'm still front-lining in the ratings wars. And that's why every fall for the past twenty or so years, I've had to dig up a big story, a heavy hitter, one that'll get a ratings home run. Score, and my job is safe for another year. Strike out, and I could be shipped away from Boston and sent to cover the news in some small-market backwater. So far, I haven't had to call my agent or a moving company.
But now, because the arrival of my new boss has unfortunately coincided with the arrival of my contract expiration date, I've got to come up with a bigger story than ever.
If I don't, news director Kevin O'Bannon may be tempted to hire some half-my-age Cyndi from Cincinnati for half my salary. Everyone at Channel 3 will get one of those transparent "Charlotte McNally has decided to leave Boston to pursue other opportunities" e-mails.
They say you're only as good as your last story. Fine. My last story was a three-part series on State House bid-rigging that gave a few slimily corrupt politicians a new job making license plates. November ratings? Bring 'em on.
"Charlie — hey, Charlie. You here?"
I look up from my spam deleting. Someone's crashing open the heavy glass double doors that lead into the Channel 3 Investigative Unit. And they're looking for me.
My brain starts to buzz. Maybe there's breaking news. Maybe I'm the only on-air type here. Face time is always good. More likely, though, whoever it is probably wants me to go interview the latest lottery winner or something equally predictable. Dog falls in well. Tree falls on house. Ratings-grabbers, I suppose, but not what I call journalism.
I briefly contemplate hiding under my desk, but a quick assessment tells me that won't work — my collection of backup shoes occupies all the available space. Besides, my news Spidey-sense is pinging into high. I remember when Mom caught me reading the last chapter of my Nancy Drew first. She was bewildered, but as nine-year-old me explained, I hafta know what happens. All these years later, I'm still incurably curious. And now, maybe "what's happened" is actually something newsworthy.
"Yup, in here," I call out. If it's the saving-the-dog-in-the-well gig, I'll just say no. Let 'em fire me. I touch my wooden desk to defuse the jinx. Didn't really mean that.
Teddy Sheehan, his shirttails out and khaki pants already splattered with coffee stains, arrives in my doorway with a look on his face I instantly recognize: producer emergency. He bats his plastic water bottle against his leg, making a little pocking sound that punctuates his obvious agitation.
"I can't find Ellen," he says, inspecting my tiny office as if she might be lurking there. "She's supposed to be on the anchor desk for the next newsbreak, but she's nowhere. It's crazy. If I can't find her —"
I know where this is headed. A jolt of news adrenaline erases my ill-advised third-glass-of-white-wine hangover. "No problem," I assure him. "Let's go."
The instant the network commercial ends, someone has to read the script from the teleprompter. This morning, it appears that someone is going to be me.
We racket down the stairs to the newsroom. Four minutes till airtime.
Teddy stops suddenly, and turns to stare at me, pointing at my do-it-yourself up-do. "The folks at home are not going to buy the pencil-in-the-hair look," he says. His panicked expression reappears. "It's early, but nobody's that sleepy. Can you do anything to ...?"
My eyes go wide, picturing myself. He's right. Not only is my hair a big Glamour "don't," I have on zero lipstick. This is supposed to be the morning news, not night of the living dead. And now it's three minutes to airtime.
Ten years ago, Teddy would have said, "Don't worry, Charlie, you're the best-looking investigative reporter in town. Just get your little blond self into that anchor desk and let the camera love you."
Today he says, "Never mind."
Teddy careens into his desk chair and types out the new production info for the control room as he dictates the same instructions out loud to me. "We'll run the opening animation graphics, then go straight to videotape. You just voice -over the pictures, then hand it off to weather — it's Becca this morning. Just read. We'll never see you on camera."
He glances at the digital clock ticking relentlessly over the anchor desk, and goes pale. "It's less than a minute to air. Do it!"
I dash to the desk and plug my earpiece into its black box so I can hear the director in the control room. As I clip the microphone onto the sweater tied around my shoulders, I pray the video actually rolls, so our million or so viewers don't wake up to the alarming vision of Charlie McNally without mascara or lipstick.
I settle in the chair, all plugged in. Just one thing missing. A big thing.
"Where's the script?" I yell.
The camera operator points to me. "On the air in — thirty seconds," he says calmly.
"No script!" someone calls out from under the stairs.
That's a very bad sign. Under the stairs is where the ...
"Yo, Charlie, printer's broken," I hear someone yell back to me. "Just read the prompter."
I should have hidden under my desk. The prompter had better work or I am going to kill someone.
My heart sinks. This is what I get for coming in early. All I wanted to do was get a head start on my story. Now, instead, I'm going to be humiliated in front of millions of —
"In five, four ..."
The teleprompter flashes into life. The floor director gives me a quick finger point. Showtime.
"Good morning, this is Charlie McNally in the newsroom."
I've never seen the script that's rolling by in front of me before, I'm just reading it cold. But after twenty-some years in the business, my brain can read a line or two ahead of my mouth.
"Topping the news this morning, investigators searching for the cause of a fire overnight in Allston. Witnesses say the apartment was being used as an off -campus dormitory for Morrison College."
Hmm. There's a possible story, the reporter track of my brain muses. Wonder if that's legal, stashing students in some apartment and calling it a dorm. Wonder if we could sneak a hidden camera inside.
I keep reading.
"Big traffic problems on the Expressway this morning. Commuters stalled for up to half an hour, as a truck filled with twenty-pound bags of ice skids and rolls over ..."
Is there a story here, too? Wonder if the driver was drinking? Had the truck been inspected?
I keep reading.
"Finally this morning, police are asking for your help in finding a Lexington man reported as missing earlier this week. His wife released this picture of forty -one-year-old Bradley Foreman. You see it now on your screen —"
I glance at the monitor, confirming. Good job, control-room guys.
"He's described as around six feet tall, brown hair and eyes, medium build."
That's helpful. Medium everything. Must be a slow news day if this is a story.
I keep reading.
"His wife says she last saw Foreman when he left for work Thursday morning, but his colleagues at Aztratek Pharmaceuticals say he never arrived at their Boxford office complex."
The minute my mouth says Aztratek, some part of my brain goes into alert mode. It shoots me a definite wakeup message, but there's no time to listen.
I keep reading.
"If you see this man, police say, please call Lexington police."
I change my voice to perky and check the monitor for the weather map. It's there.
"Now, the weather. Channel 3 meteorologist Rebecca Holcomb has all the weather info you need. Becca?" I see the camera shot switch to Becca. I'm done.
"Thanks, Charlie," the director's voice buzzes into my ear. "You're clear."
I yank out my earpiece and unclip the microphone. Teddy's right behind me, way less freaked than five minutes ago.
"That was perfect, Charlie," he says. "You're the best."
"La-di-da." I give a dismissive little wave. "All in a day's work."
I rummage under the anchor desk to retrieve the shoes I kicked off, and Teddy turns to go back to his workstation. Because of me, he's not going to get nailed for missing the local newsbreak. He lives to produce another day. But I'm suddenly wondering if my tomorrows are numbered.
I stay in the anchor chair, chin in my hands, staring at the now-opaque camera lens. Not good. What I thought could be a career-enhancing chunk of face time didn't show my face at all. They actually had to roll video to make sure no one would see me. Not good. Without a moment's hesitation, Teddy erased me. Made me invisible. Brenda Starr's just as photogenic today as she was thirty years ago, but this ain't the comics. My flesh-and-blood future is beginning to scare me, much more than reading the news, cold, with no makeup.
Since I'm married to my job, what happens when the camera doesn't love me anymore? Will a career divorce leave me a media old maid?
A T-shirted assistant director, coiling his headphone cord, walks up, surprised I'm still at the desk. "We're done, right?" he asks.
I nod, but I'm smiling a smile I don't feel. What's more, I've just thought of something else not good.
"Hey, Teddy," I call. I put my shoes back on, pulling up one elastic strap over my heel as I hop across the newsroom floor toward his desk. "Hey, Ted!"
He turns around, quizzical.
"Ellen," I say, regaining my balance. "Where's Ellen?"
Teddy scratches his head and looks off into the distance. "Dead," he mutters.
I know this is just TV-producer frustration. He's not really expecting the worst. But "missing your slot" is a massive newsroom mistake, almost as unforgivable as getting scooped. If Ellen's not dead, her excuse had better be good.
* * *
Back in my office, my once-hot coffee is now barely warm. I risk a chalky sip and stare at my computer screen.
I know I should focus on finding my big story. Check out those off-campus dorms or the uninspected trucks. And I've got to remember to run those ideas by my producer, Franklin, when he comes in. But my mind just won't let go of the missing "medium" guy from the pharmaceutical company. Some part of my brain alerted on that Aztratek name like a K-9 dog at a crime scene, and my instinct says that's not something to ignore.
Tapping my fingers on the desk, I delve into my memory bank. Where have I heard of Aztratek? And it was — Brandon? Bradley? Foreman? How am I supposed to figure this out? Or how am I supposed to figure out if there is anything to figure out?
What if this is the biggest story ever, and I'm missing it? I need ...
Makeup. If I look better, I'll think better. I take my little mirror from the wall and prop it on my computer keys so it leans against the monitor.
Brown eye shadow. More black mascara than Mom would think necessary. A little bronzing blush where my cheekbones ought to be, and then my trademark red lipstick. I went through a phase of Vixen, moved through Rage and now I'm loving Inferno. Seems as if even the makeup marketing honchos are capturing my sudden free fall into old age. Which comes first, the wrinkles or the lipstick name? If my next favorite is Reincarnation I'm really going to worry.
One last glance in the mirror. Great. Now I still look like a tired person, just a tired person wearing makeup.
I park the way-too-unsympathetic mirror on the floor and click open my e-mail again. I've got to go back to basics. What investigative reporting is all about. Not how you look, but how you look for answers. Relentless inquiry, focus on details, The Quest. I sit up straighter as I type my way through my fancy e-mail search system, my caffeine-fueled brain charging toward the light. I remember. His name is Bradley Foreman. Nothing can stop me now.
A tiny hourglass flips over and over on the screen. Any second now, all will be revealed.
No matches found.
My shoulders slump. No Bradley Foreman has ever e-mailed me. The next search informs me I've never gotten an e-mail that mentions a company called Aztratek Pharmaceuticals.
But I've got Google. And I'm feeling lucky.
The cursor beckons. I type "Aztratek."
According to the screen, my search takes 1.7 seconds.
"Do you mean Aztratech?"
Google is so patronizing.
What I meant was, whatever the company the missing Bradley Foreman worked for. Works for, I correct myself, choosing the more optimistic words. I click on yes.
Aztratech Pharmaceuticals. It pops up instantly. Images opening and closing, sleek logos, hip graphics. It looks legit, but I have no idea what any of it means. I click on "About us."
Aztratech Pharmaceuticals, 336 Progress Drive, Boxford, Massachusetts. I smile. That's the one.
And — do I smell coffee?
"Hey, Charlotte — heard you on the newsbreak! What the hell is up with that?"
Franklin, predictably immaculate in a pressed pink Polo knit shirt, tortoiseshell sunglasses hanging over the top button, puts a steaming latte on my desk. "Room service," he says. "Triple venti non-fat. Thought you might be needing it."
Franklin is the only one, except for my mother, who calls me Charlotte. With his rural deep-South drawl it comes out like Shaw-lit. I still smile every time I hear it.
Franklin Brooks Parrish, age fifteen years younger than I am, is the latest in a longish line of investigative producers who've shared my office. I'm embarrassed to admit he's one of the few of color the station has hired. Louisiana State undergrad, a culture-shocking jump to Columbia Journalism School, then first TV job at some little station in Charleston, another in Albany, then CNN Investigates, then here to Boston. All part of the market-climbing odyssey necessary for TV success.
He doesn't know I know he's already putting together résumé tapes. I also know he'll leave me when network bigwigs offer New York. TV relationships — don't ask, don't tell, don't get attached. And I'm very comfortable with temporary. Still, I'll miss Franklin when he goes.
"Hey, Franko, thanks so much for the replacement coffee. How do you already know just what I need?"
Excerpted from Prime Time by Hank Phillippi Ryan. Copyright © 2009 Hank Phillippi Ryan. Excerpted by permission of Tom Doherty Associates.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Author Hank Phillippi Ryan is an award-winning investigative reporter at Boston's NBC affiliate. She has twenty-six Emmy's and ten Edward R. Murrow Awards, along with dozens of other national and international journalism honors. Her work has resulted in new laws, homes removed from foreclosure, criminals sent to prison, and millions of dollars in restitution. Before her reporting career, she was a proofreader, a radio reporter, an Editorial Assistant at Rolling Stone, and a legislative aide in the US Senate. Other titles include: Face Time (coming August 2009) and Air Time (coming September 2009.) She resides just outside of Boston, MA, with her husband. Charlotte McNally knows that in the ruthless world of television journalism, you're only as good as your last story, and her latest one very well may be. In her forties, she also knows it is all too easy to get scooped and replaced. With the November sweeps coming quick, she needs to pull out all the stops or kiss her career goodbye. When an innocent-looking email offer turns into a multimillion-dollar fraud ring and murder, it's not just her job on the line, it's her life. Her investigation soon leads to Josh Gelston, a professor who is just a tad too helpful and way too handsome. The sparks between them fly, but can Charlotte trust him, or is he part of this diabolical plot? As tension mounts and more questions arise, she better figure this puzzle out, or she'll be the next headline. Told in first-person point-of-view, this wasn't one of those dark, suspenseful reads, but rather more light-hearted and humorous, and I found it captivating. Between the emails, the secondary characters, the suspects, and the mystery to figure out- You'll keep reading until the end and wanting more. Charlie's producer, Franklin, was a phenomenal add to the story-line and I rather enjoyed him. The emails were neat to watch unfold, and quite immensely clever. This was a very well-paced book, too. The setting drew you in, and I liked learning more about Boston. The reader will learn a great deal about television journalism without realizing it, and be sure to keep your eye out for the What they don't teach you in J-school, entries.Hilarious! Typically, first-person isn't my favorite, but this goes to show what good writing and a great sense of humor can do for a book. Prime Time, by Hank Phillippi Ryan is a fascinating glimpse into journalism, an intriguing mystery, and a sweet romance, with sassy, but loveable characters, amidst a laugh-out-loud dialog to liven any mood. Kelly Moran, Author and Reviewer
TV investigative reporter Charlotte "Charlie" McNally is trying to find a great story for November sweeps. And it might have just landed in her lap with a tip from the widow of an apparent suicide. The story started rather slowly, but once it got going, I couldn't put it down.
PRIME TIME is a wonderfully fun, funny mystery. The heroine is delightful, and her thought processes can be laugh-out-loud funny. The characters are all well-drawn, and the mystery is intriguing. All-around awesome book. Disclosure: I won a free copy of this book in a giveaway.
I really enjoyed this first-in-series Charlie McNally book. I usually lean toward the cozy mysteries, but this one was great! I love that it was set in Boston, one of my favorite cities. At first, this book reminded me of Linda Barnes' Carlotta Carlyle mysteries, but mostly just because of the setting, independent female lead character, and being in the same genre. This story constantly kept me thinking and guessing, trying to make connections and put pieces together to solve the mystery, which I love. I liked that Charlie is smart, driven, and independent, but not antisocial or unlikable. Her producer Franklin is also smart, plus witty and a great friend to Charlie. Charlie's career as an investigative reporter lends itself to mystery-solving, so the research and interviewing she does in the book come naturally and fit well into the story. There were a few dumb mistakes Charlie and Franklin made in the book, but those foolish errors help the story line. In the spirit of full disclosure, I won a free copy of this book, but the opinions in my review are completely my own. I really like this book and can't wait to grab the 2nd book in the series!
This is the first book in a series, and I really enjoyed it. It had a fast pace, and you felt sympathy for the main character right away. It might have been a little too breezy, but I got so caught up in the action that I just kept reading. Stefani Trujillo
As an avid fan and reader of the suspense/mystery/who-dun-it/thriller type novel, I always pick up and read a new author and measure them against the high and mighty bar of my favorite novelists of this venue who I have followed for years. Few authors are even able to fall in the shadows of the works of such as Clancy, Baldacci, Ludlum, Fleming, and Hillerman. I had the opportunity to read Prime Time recently as a featured book for the General Fiction Board at B&N Book Club. Within a few pages of starting the book I knew I had found such an author and was in for an all-nighter. Hank Ryan set a stage for not just another read. The heroine was not just another young, athletic, fantastic looker that turned every head, but "really had a working brain" under that head of hair. No, this heroine I found believable. She was someone who was hitting that age that "hot jobs" tend to start retiring their stars from, and looking for young blood. But, Charlie, our investigative reporter/undercover sleuth was not ready to go down for the count. The storyline is fast paced and full of real-life humor that only someone who has been in "the business" could truly communicate convincingly. Charlie carries us along for the wild ride with her as she goes after a story that she is investigating. Throw in a little mid-life crisis, a "hunk" that has the ability to sweep her off her feet (and smart, too), and humor that is perfectly paced to and makes you take a deep breath, just when you need to,--- you find yourself a part of the story and not just an observer. Oh, did I say this book is a mystery, suspense, who-dun-it? Yes, it is of the first rate variety. Not even my above mentioned favorites can keep me guessing to the end as to who did it and why most of the time. Ryan kept Charlie (the heroine) and the rest of us jumping, turning, running, guessing, and pulling out paper and pencil to figure out clues down to the final chapters and pages. This was one book that I was grabbing the next page to be ready to turn as soon as I turned the last one. Once I finally figured out who/what/why, I couldn't believe it. Yes, the clues were there, but cleverly presented like a magician with a slight of hand. Now that I have read through this book like a flashdance, I am going to have to go back and read it slowly like a slow waltz so I can weigh and assess the clues and see what and how I missed it the first time around. This book has definitely made the re-read shelf and Hank Ryan has definitely acquired a hardcore fan. I look forward to acquiring and reading the remainder of her current books and can hardly wait for her upcoming novel.
Very interesting easy to read keeps your attention. Read the book all in one day....
This is an absorbing mystery full of humor and romance and plenty of zany characters! It was lots of fun to read and I intend to read Ryan's other books now too!
Charlie McNally is a unique and welcome addition to the characters in series books -- a smart, savvy, accomplished, 40 something woman, with a few self doubts -- just like a real person! She is funny and heart-warming, almost making the story seem secondary. But this is also a very good mystery. The story stems from Charlie's life as an investigative reporter in Boston and has a bit of romance added in also. This is an all around fun read and I look forward to the upcoming books in the series!
Hank Phillipi Ryan's PRIME TIME is a definite must-read for the mystery/thriller lover. It is well written, the characters are likeable, and the plot is filled with so many twists and turns that the reader is left guessing until the very last paragraph. Although the story involves a conspiracy which involves insider-trading, the story is easy for one unfamiliar with the subject to read. For me, one of the most enjoyable aspects in reading this story was getting to know the main character, Boston's Channel 3 Investigative Reporter Charlie McNally, and the pressures that go along with her job which reach far beyond asking questions. Like attorneys, reporters search for the truth and if they do their jobs ethically and well, they too can help to make our world a safer place. Well done, Ms. Ryan - I look forward to reading more of your work. J.R. Reardon Author, CONFIDENTIAL COMMUNICATIONS
Charlie McNally is 46 years old, the winner of several Emmys for her investigative reporting and beginning to severely doubt if she has what it takes to stay in television's demanding game! For intelligence and a knack for sleuthing the hottest story of the day isn't enough these days; instead one must have the looks and sexy appeal to draw viewers back to the fantasy that beauty, charm and brains are all one and the same. Age and weight repel the TV camera. Add to those lurking worries that her high-powered boss, snooty Angela, is just aching to send Charlotte or Charlie packing. And Charlie's beginning to realize that maybe all of her sacrifices that placed her career over a marriage and family weren't all they were cracked up to be! Now comes a new problem that adds to her diminishing confidence as an aging reporter. It turns out that a series of e-mails have been sent to a select few, messages that look like spam but are actually a code for something far more serious than the usual nonsense promising millions of dollars in five minutes or someone insisting their heartbreaking need can only be solved by a donation of the same amount. Unfortunately, things start ratcheting up quite a few scales in Charlie's radar screen when she learns of a man's supposed suicide and starts investigating the e-mail messages after his wife requests Charlie's help. With her colleague, Franklin's very smart assistance, Charlie seems to be getting closer to the reason behind Bradley Foreman's death, with some results that seem to be very frightening to his wife, Melanie Foreman. In the process of examining boxes of records that seem to hold the clue to the mystery, Charlie meets Professor Josh Gelston, a sexy looking guy quite impressed by Charlie's Shakespearean knowledge and maybe even more. But Charlie doesn't know if Josh is the friend or enemy in her quest to unravel the refinance messages that she now realizes are linked to some very high profile businessmen and women. Hank Ryan knows how to plot a thriller for sure. The reader was captivated by the twists and turns that seem to come close to the final solution but more often than not weave their way into something even more sinister. Add together two murders, some very serious threats at an almost gothic-style funeral, an attempted effort at killing the heroine and her partner, and some other just as suspense-driven moments and you have the makings of a best seller crime drama! Prime Time will make you want to read more from this very savvy, smart, funny and intriguing character, Charlotte McNally! This reviewer is very much looking forward to reading the next story in this series, Face Time! Reviewed by Viviane Crystal on September 6, 2009
For all you gals, and guys that are tired of the teeny-bopper, or the 20's or even the 30's heroine get ready for sexy, funny and wonderful Charlie - 40 something- McNally TV reporter extraordinaire. In Hank's first of her Charlotte McNally series we find Charlie hunting for a news story worthy of the November sweeps and she finds a lot more than she bargained for. Ms Ryan gives the readers edge of your seat excitement, nail biting danger and brow sweating drama. Her characters are all wonderfully detailed and not only the main characters but her supporting cast could easily support there own story (hint hint). She gives us wonderful dialogue that is witty and funny and with a crash course on Journalism 101's no nos. Her story line is exceptional and even though the 10 oclock news in no big story she gives it just enough of a twist that will have her readers flipping pages non-stop. She creates an almost romance that makes her readers anxious to read the next chapter in Charlie's life. So if you're ready for a non-stop, seat of you pants, roller coaster adventure into the daily life of a 40 something investigative reporter, who's also a great gal. Prime Time is your read.
An exciting new mystery series debuted recently, with Hank Phillippi Ryan¿s first novel PRIME TIME. The writing is compelling, as the reader is instantly drawn into the world of TV investigative reporter Charlotte ¿Charlie¿ McNally. Charlie is a stylish, divorced, forty-ish, Emmy-winning reporter with a wry sense of humor and an overwhelming dedication to getting the story. When the widow of a man killed in a car accident contacts Charlie and asks why she never returned her now-deceased husband¿s email, Charlie¿s antennae stand right up. After just a few inquiries, she and her loyal producer Franklin become convinced that they have not only uncovered a suspicious series of email messages, but that they may also have tripped over a murder. The book is full of twists and turns, as one moment the case looks clear-cut and the identity of the killer appears obvious, and the next the reader is wondering exactly who Charlie can trust, as does Charlie herself. Author Hank Phillippi Ryan is a much-admired investigative reporter in the Boston area, and her expertise shows in every line of the book. From scooping rivals to dealing with the police, Charlie is a believable and magnetic figure. Her frequent observations about her profession '¿Courses they don¿t teach in Journalism School: Future Shock: The Choice of Fame or Family¿' mesh well with her concerns over the precarious nature of her job. But Charlie¿s no whiner ¿ when it comes to getting the facts, she¿s willing to roll up her sleeves and get her hands dirty. Unfortunately, the other side is just as willing to dirty its own hands ¿ to keep the story from reaching PRIME TIME.
Charlie (Charlotte) McNally is an investigative reporter. She has won many Emmy¿s, but now that she¿s in her forties, she¿s worried they will replace her with someone younger. While she and her producer Franklin are looking for a hit story for sweeps in November, they stumble upon a man killed in a car crash. In a routine interview with the wife, they begin uncovering information but they just aren¿t sure where it¿ll lead. Much of it is SPAM. Could this be anything more than just e-mail SPAM? If so, what does it mean? They keep following the leads. Soon there is another death, some thefts, and an attack. They know they must be on the right track, but they just can¿t put the pieces together. Plus Charlie finds romance. Can she trust him? Can they scoop the other news agencies before anyone else is injured? Can they do it for sweeps? I loved Charlie. She is such a fun character. Very down to earth and the story line was very believable. Using SPAM is such a timely issue. I could see someone doing this and getting away with it. It would be hard to catch. Franklin and Josh were great characters, too. Really added to the story. I can¿t wait to read the next! Please write faster! I highly recommend this book.
In most professions being forty-six years old means prime time, but as an on screen TV reporter Charlotte ¿Charlie¿ McNally is considered old. She as much as the brass compares herself unfavorably to the sleek new face of the young news anchorwoman, Ellen Cavanagh. Still Charlie hopes to put off father time a bit longer although she is insulted when news director Kevin O'Bannon assigns her to interview the widow of Aztratek Pharmaceuticals employee Bradley Foreman, who died in a recent car accident.---------------- However, Charlie soon learns that the deceased sent her whistle-blowing e-mails regarding some papers that expose his firm¿s dangerous dealings. Charlie investigates the allegations, which leads her to Professor Joshua Gelston. She is attracted to him, but fears he may prove to be an educated thug.-------------- Charlie makes PRIME TIME into an enjoyable romantic suspense thriller as she tells the tale with wit, humor, and fear for her heart if her potential knight in shining armor proves to be the enemy as she (and readers) suspects he is. Fans will appreciate her escapades as she wonders: to trust or not to trust (her heart) that is the question.------------- Harriet Klausner