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A Confidential Source    by Jan Brogan order for
Confidential Source
by Jan Brogan
Order:  USA  Can
Mysterious Press, 2005 (2005)

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* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Hallie Ahern is an investigative reporter, who left a prestigious job in Boston after she compromised herself by falling for the subject of her story, a man who conned her. This happened after her brother's sudden death, which led Hallie into alcoholism and to AA. Now she works for the Chronicle in Rhode Island, covering events like bike-a-thon fundraisers and school board meetings.

Hallie has an addictive personality - she regularly buys lottery tickets, and can't resist calling in (as Mary) to a Late Night radio talk show with an abrasive, opinionated host - Hallie often argues with Leonard about a forthcoming referendum to legalize gambling in the state. The fact that Leonard's a big part of her life is indicative of how empty that life is - her only friend is her AA mentor, Walter, and she's heavily in debt, mainly to her mother.

Then Hallie drops in to her local convenience store, the Mazursky Market, where she meets a handsome, dark-eyed prosecutor, Matt Cavanaugh. After he leaves, there's a shooting, and Hallie's friend Barry (on check-out) is murdered. Hallie writes about, and investigates, the killing, anxious to win a spot that's opening up on her paper's investigative team. Digging into Barry's past leads her to the casinos, where she discovers another addiction - to gambling.

Events unfold. Leonard becomes Hallie's confidential source, though sadly not a very reliable one. Cavanaugh is annoyed by her investigation and by the personal risk that she's inviting. Rightly so, as threats, danger and death soon stalk Hallie to an exciting conclusion. Though the story is somewhat uneven and the characters don't always come into clear focus, the gambling/investigative journalism theme makes A Confidential Source an intriguing mystery.

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