Review: Jon Talton, author of two mystery series, pens a stand-alone character-driven thriller set in and around the offices of a Seattle newspaper and spanning a period of several weeks in Deadline Man.
The central character is an unnamed employee of the Seattle Free Press, known to readers only as the Columnist. As if to help define his profession, a columnist differs from a reporter in that the latter is supposed to write news stories from an objective standpoint whereas the former can — and is expected to — insert their opinion into their articles. The Columnist is a busy man, writing 140 columns a year plus maintaining a blog. Following a relatively routine meeting with one of his sources, a hedge fund manager named Troy Hardesty, to discuss the financial climate of the country and a whispered rumor about something known only as "eleven-eleven", Hardesty takes a leap from the top of a skyscraper. A suicide … then again, maybe not. Soon thereafter he's accosted by men purportedly from the FBI who questions him about "eleven-eleven", what he knows and how he came about the information. He's released but suspects that something sinister is being planned, but by whom and to what end is unknown.
A separate subplot in Deadline Man involves the newspaper business itself. The Columnist works for a private company that the current owners want to sell at any price, believing the company to be a rapidly depreciating asset. The Columnist seems strangely unconcerned by this pending event, as if an alternate reality to his present position is something to be ignored rather than faced. Then there are the ladies in his life ...
The conspiracy aspect to Deadline Man is, for the most part, riveting. The pace is fast and there is plenty of mystery to keep one interested. And the (presumably) realistic depiction of the current state of the newspaper business provides a credible backdrop. The most significant problem here is with the seemingly unrelenting intrusion of Columnist's personal life into the story. The excessively descriptive details on his love life border on the tedious and mundane — which is conspicuously ironic since the Columnist abhors trite and overused expressions that bore the reader — and serve as an unwelcome distraction to what is otherwise a thought-provoking, intriguing thriller.
Special thanks to guest reviewer Betty of The Betz Review for contributing her review of Deadline Man.
Acknowledgment: Poisoned Pen Press provided an ARC of Deadline Man for this review.
Review Copyright © 2010 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
Selected reviews of other mysteries by this author …
The Pain Nurse
Poisoned Pen Press (Hardcover), April 2009
ISBN-13: 9781590586242; ISBN-10: 1590586247
The Night Detectives
Poisoned Pen Press (Hardcover), May 2013
ISBN-13: 9781464201325; ISBN-10: 1464201323
Location(s) referenced in Deadline Man: Seattle, Washington
— ♦ —
Deadline Man by Jon Talton
Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press
Publication Date: May 2010
List Price: $24.95
— ♦ —
Page Author: Lance Wright
Site Publisher: Mysterious Reviews
Mysterious Reviews is a Division of
The Hidden Staircase Mystery Books
and a Business Unit of the
Omnimystery Family of Mystery Websites