Forget ‘Page-Turner’ – This Thriller is a Chapter-Turner!
by Lis Wiehl with Sebastian Stuart
Series: Newsmakers (Book 1)
Publication Date: January 19, 2016
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
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TV reporter Erica Sparks has become a superstar overnight. But is it due to her hard work and talent? Or is she at the center of a spiraling conspiracy?
Erica Sparks is a beautiful and ambitious reporter who has just landed her dream job at Global News Network in New York. And while it was hard to leave Jenny, her cherished eight-year-old daughter, in the custody of her ex-husband, Erica is determined to succeed in the cutthroat world of big-time broadcasting. She can only hope her troubled past won’t come back to sabotage her dreams.
Although the wounds from her divorce are still fresh, Erica can’t deny the chemistry between her and her new producer, the handsome and empathetic Greg Underwood. But a relationship is the last thing she wants right now.
On her very first assignment, Erica inadvertently witnesses — and films — a horrific tragedy, scooping all the other networks. Mere weeks later, another tragedy strikes — again, right in front of Erica and her cameras. Her career skyrockets overnight, but Erica is troubled. Deeply. This can’t just be coincidence. But what is it?
Erica will stop at nothing to uncover the truth. But she has to make sure disaster — and her troubled past — don’t catch up with her first.
It’s been a long time since I’ve read a book in two sittings. But with its economical, rapid-fire scenes, charismatic leading lady, intriguing storyline, and brief chapters (less than 4 pages on average), Lis Wiehl’s The Newsmakers dares you to put it down.
The novel makes it clear that its plot is a battle between Good and Evil. Our villain is the physical embodiment of most of the Seven Deadly Sins — with an emphasis on pride, greed, wrath, and lust. He’s also a genius and a visionary, and in a cleverly done prologue, we are put squarely on his side. It doesn’t take long, however, before his true nature reveals itself and the reader sees that all he lacks to be a perfect devil is a tail and a pair of horns. In his employ are others of his ilk – demons, if you will – catering to his every wish, and every bit as callous and ambitious as their boss.
Erica Sparks, on the other hand, our intelligent, hard-working, courageous heroine, has been blessed with angelic beauty, but carries within her a past full of heartache and failure. She fights every recovering alcoholic’s never-ending battle against temptation, and struggles to prove to herself (and her daughter and ex-husband) that she is a good mother. But where the villain of the piece gains and retains his followers through fear and the exercise of financial power, Erica wins the loyalty of those who become her friends and allies with a warm and honest personality. She is far from perfect, but Erica recognizes her flaws and works to improve herself.
As you would expect in a book published by a Christian firm, there is very little in the way of offensive material in either language or plot. With all the sick, twisted bad guys we meet, there’s plenty of opportunity for (justifiable) four-letter dialogue, but Wiehl proves you can build an evil character without resorting to foul language. Personally, I was not offended by anything I read. I will warn those readers expecting an overt, Jesus-oriented, message-carrying narrative, that you will be disappointed. This is a thriller in which the protagonist’s life is lived at a gallop, in near-constant danger, not a sedately-paced exploration of one’s spirit.
That said, when Erica is at her lowest point, confused and frightened, she seeks refuge in a “small redbrick church”, a “safe place…where kindness lights the way”. As she absorbs the calming atmosphere of the sanctuary, she reflects:
All her life Erica has felt like she was running on quicksand, with nothing to save her but her own speed and strength and determination, and no one to pull her up should she start to sink. When she finally found faith…she found herself on firmer footing for the first time in her life. Her faith is her bridge over the quicksand.
It’s the passage that best defines our heroine and explains how she is able to cope with everything that’s thrown her way. It’s also one of the few times in this suspenseful, break-neck tale where the reader, like Erica, can pause a moment and catch her breath!
— Jennifer Michelle
4.5 of 5 Hearts. Forget ‘Page-Turner’ – This Thriller is a Chapter-Turner!
Lis Wiehl’s latest novel is the first in a new series. She’s done an excellent job of establishing her heroine and filling her world with likable characters. More thriller than mystery, the real pleasure of The Newsmakers is in tagging along with smart, savvy, and strong Erica Sparks on her investigations, rooting for her to figure out what we already suspect and hoping that she can save the day!
*Disclosure of Material Connection: I would like to thank Fiction Guild and Thomas Nelson for providing me with a copy of The Newsmakers in exchange for an honest review. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”