There’s something Dick Belsky delivers in all of his mysteries — spine-bending plot twists that leave you feeling like you’re riding a nuclear-powered rollercoaster instead of reading a book.
His soon-to-be latest, another Clare Carlson mystery, THE LAST SCOOP, is no exception. It’s Belsky at his best — fast copy, as they used to say in the journalism game; snappy patter that reads like dialogue between Rosalind Russell and Cary Grant; and, stunning revelations that leave you muttering: “I’m a smart guy, but I did not see that one coming.”
At the center of it all is Carlson, an ex-print journalist and Pulitzer Prize winner turned news director at a New York television station. She’s a terminal smart-ass and helluva reporter who loves to escape the newsroom and chase big stories.
A driven perfectionist at work and a train wreck in her personal life, she has three or four broken marriages that were clocked with a stopwatch between the altar and divorce court. Pretty typical for a journalist, a profession Belsky knows well because he played it at a very high level in New York and L.A.
She also has a big secret that would ruin her if ever revealed, proving the truth crusader was living a Big Lie.
In this story, Carlson is shocked to read about the murder of Marty Barlow, her mentor when she was a cub reporter just cutting her teeth. He taught her how to be a pro, how to be relentless in pursuit of a story and rigorous about getting it right and hewing to the facts, no matter where they led.
She also feels a ton of guilt because she blew him off after he came to her, a little wild-eyed about what he called the biggest story he’d ever chased, a blockbuster of corruption and murder, and asked for her help. She promised to meet him over coffee and never did. Now he was dead, another victim of what seemed to be another random and senseless New York murder.
To make amends, she starts to follow Barlow’s trail, talking her way past his submissive daughter and bastardly son-in-law to get her mentor’s notes and access to his computer. Sooner rather than later, mobsters are menacing her as she uncovers bent developers and a trail of corruption that seems to lead right to a rising star of a district attorney with her eye on the mayor’s office.
That ain’t all, folks. Barlow was also digging into the brutal and unsolved murder of a high school cheerleader in a small Indiana town and was convinced it was linked to the murders of nearly twenty other women scattered across the country. How all this fit into the corruption story mystified Clare, presenting a puzzle no reporter can leave unsolved.
Belsky smoothly builds his rollercoaster like the master craftsman he is. And the result is a corkscrew trip at warp speed, rocketing through the curves and stomach churning drops.
Buy this ticket and take the ride.
The author provided an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Jim Nesbitt is the author of three hard-boiled crime thrillers set in Texas and northern Mexico that feature battered but relentless Dallas PI Ed Earl Burch — The Last Second Chance, The Right Wrong Number and The Best Lousy Choice. Available in paperback and Kindle at: