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Black & White and Dead All Over    by John Darnton order for
Black & White and Dead All Over
by John Darnton
Order:  USA  Can
Knopf, 2008 (2008)
Hardcover, e-Book

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* * *   Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth

What a wonderful novel on the vagaries of declining readership, advertising and circulation of the newspaper business. As if that weren't bad enough, now there has been a murder of an important editor at New York's Globe.

Black and White and Dead All Over tells it like it is – or was – in the city room of newspapers. It is the fifth novel by author John Darnton, a reporter, editor and foreign correspondent for The New York Times. He points out the cynicism, romanticism and jealousies of a business which often operates at a frenetic pace.

When the murder occurs, reporter Jude Hurley takes reporting this death to the next step and does some investigation on his own, teaming up with NYPD police detective Priscilla Bollingsworth. The two not only discover clues but find that they enjoy each other's company. Our pleasure in that pales though, when reading of the employees' interactions: resentful old timers, schemers in the workforce who will do anything to further their careers, those at the top who seem more blunderers than capable of leadership. Then there is the crafty newspaper tycoon who wants the paper.

All melded together, this makes for a great story. Satirical. Sad at times when reading of ambitions that didn't come to fruition, sometimes over just a single misstep. There's a great mélange of characters with wonderful names: Hagenbuckle, Grabble, Rosen and Guilden, Outsalot. The plot, while having many twists and turns, never appears contrived. Black and White and Dead All Over is simply a very good read, not to be missed.

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