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Tuesday 5 May 2020

✍ The Last Scoop: Clare Carlson Mysteries [3] - R. G. Belsky

Genre: Mystery
Published by Oceanview Publishing
Number of pages: 369
My rating: ★ ★ ★ ★  Very Good / I really liked it  
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The Last Scoop
|| Synopsis || Review || Teaser: KCR Preview || The Series || About the Author || Giveaway & Tour Stops ||

"The scariest kind of serial killer—one you don't know exists

Martin Barlow was Clare Carlson's first newspaper editor, a beloved mentor who inspired her career as a journalist. But, since retiring from his newspaper job, he had become a kind of pathetic figure—railing on about conspiracies, cover-ups, and other imaginary stories he was still working on. Clare had been too busy with her own career to pay much attention to him.

When Martin Barlow is killed on the street one night during an apparent mugging attempt gone bad, it seems like he was just an old man whose time had come.

But Clare—initially out of a sense of guilt for ignoring her old friend and then because of her own journalistic instincts—begins looking into his last story idea. As she digs deeper and deeper into his secret files, she uncovers shocking evidence of a serial killer worse than Son of Sam, Ted Bundy, or any of the other infamous names in history.

This really is the biggest story of Martin Barlow's career—and Clare's, too—as she uncovers the path leading to the decades-long killer of at least twenty young women. All is not as it seems during Clare's relentless search for this serial killer. Is she setting herself up to be his next victim?"

The Last Scoop is Dick (R.G.) Belsky's latest release, just published today, and the third instalment in his Clare Carlson Mysteries series, preceded by Yesterday's News and Below The Fold (read our review here).  I had been waiting for this book since last year, and it didn't disappoint; the writing is as strong as ever, and the twists and turns keep on coming.

The formula remains the same, with the story being narrated through Pulitzer Prize winner Clare's eyes, in the first person, as she faces her personal issues and as she chases that next scoop for her newsroom.  A fresh murder, an old murder, corruption and an unknown serial killer intersect and keep us guessing throughout as we swiftly turn the pages to get to the next clue (as per the previous offerings, I read this in one sitting).  However, two deeper background subjects run through this story which give us some food for thought: guilt and lies.
"It was Adolf Hitler who once famously said that the bigger the lie, the easier it was to tell. "People will believe a big lie sooner than a little one", Hitler boasted. I'm not sure I agree though. I believe it is sometimes the little lie, the insidious lie we might not even be aware of until it's too late that can be the most dangerous and damaging and disturbing. Not only because it is so difficult to detect. But because once you find out a person has lied - no matter how small that lie is - you immediately begin to wonder what else they're not telling you the truth about. I mean, if someone lies about one thing that you know about, the odds are pretty good he or she is also lying about a lot of other stuff you don't know. And so - before we even realize it - we find ourselves caught up in an endless cycle of dishonesty and deception."
Belsky is very skilful in his effortless narration and his female lead is genuine, flawed and believable, as are the rest of the supporting characters.  His experience in the newsroom is evident as he shares its workings and challenges with us.  Also, in this instance, as in several of his other novels, the premise for this story is "ripped from the headlines" and it is inspired by a real life crime which has gone unsolved since 1964 for which Mr Belsky asked "what if?"; find out more on 21st May when the author tells us about "Using a real-life crime for mystery fiction".

My only gripe with The Last Scoop would be that on a couple of occasions events surrounding Clare's main personal situation were repetitive - verbatim - notably a conversation about motherhood that she has with her friend and confidant, Janet.  The fact that Clare has won a Pulitzer also felt a little over-used.

Just as with the previous offerings in this series, The Last Scoop can be read as a stand-alone novel, however, be aware that both books reveal significant spoilers in relation to the first book, Yesterday's News, which was initially intended as a self-contained novel, in the fact that they progress Clare's personal storyline which is introduced in book one and which is an integral part of the rest of its plot: although the main mystery will not be spoilt, the overall impact will be less due to the spoilers.  My advice would be to read Yesterday's News first, which in my opinion is the strongest book in the series, and then carry on with either of the others; they are all very good reads and you will not regret it!

I cannot wait to read the next chapter in Clare's life, Beyond the Headlines, which is due for publication in 2021!  Belsky has also been writing a thriller series, Jessie Tucker Mysteries, under the pen-name of Dana Perry; book two, The Golden Girl is due for publication on 8 June 2020, and I cannot wait to check them out.

[ARC received via Netgalley]

About the Author

R.G. Belsky is an author of crime fiction and a journalist in New York City. He has a degree in journalism from Ohio University and has had an illustrious career in both print and television news.

The first Clare Carlson book, YESTERDAY'S NEWS, came out in 2018. It won the David Award at Deadly Ink for Best Mystery of 2018 and was also named Outstanding Crime/News Based Novel by Just Reviews in 2018 and was a Finalist for Best Mystery of 2018 in the Foreword INDIES Awards.

Belsky previously wrote the Gil Malloy series - The Kennedy Connection, Shooting for the Stars, and Blond Ice - about a newspaper reporter at the New York Daily News.

Belsky himself is the former Vice President at NBC Local Digital News, Managing Editor of the NY Daily News, News Editor of Star magazine, and Metropolitan Editor of the New York Post. Most recently, he was a Managing Editor of NBC News. Belsky’s crime novels reflect his extensive media background in newspapers, magazines, and TV/digital news.

Belsky won the Claymore Award at Killer Nashville in 2016. He has finished as a Finalist for both the Silver Falchion and David Awards.

His previous suspense/thriller novels include Loverboy and Playing Dead, and he recently began writing a new series of thrillers under the pen name of Dana Perry. The first one, The Silent Victim, is now available online and in audio from Bookouture. It features New York City newspaper reporter Jessie Tucker. A second book THE GOLDEN GIRL will be out on June 8.

Belsky lives in New York City.

Follow R. G. Belsky:

Visit the author's blog Visit the author's website Visit the author on Facebook Visit the author on Twitter Visit the author on their Amazon page Visit the author on GoodReads Visit the author on BookBub


R.G. Belsky said...

Thanks so much for that great review! Hope your readers will check out Clare. She's a lot of fun to write about. - R.G. belsky

BooksChatter said...

Hey! Hello! That was a prompt response :-)

She is great to read too!

I really want to also check out your other series, as Dana. Love your writing.


CMash said...

I am trying to wait patiently for the sequel, Beyond The Headlines. I am so addicted to this series!