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by Ardella Garland
Pocket Books, February 2002
288 pages
ISBN: 0743414802

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

When Georgia Barnett is sent to cover a story about rival gangs and a double murder in a poor community on the south side of Chicago, she doesn't know that she's about to become engaged in something a lot bigger than a new story to report on the TV news. Soon she's on the scene reporting an incident in which five people were hit, possibly in retaliation for the first group of murders. Garland brings us right into Georgia's mind as she cases the scene to prepare for how she'll report it on TV. She shows us how she picks who to interview, the kind of camera shots that she wants and just how she approaches the presentation of news to the masses.

Georgia has fought hard to overcome the fact that she is an African American in a white world. She knows that her employers have their priorities misplaced when they want her to cover the disappearance of a young white boy and ignore that of a poor 6-year-old black girl. In any event, their main concern seems to be if her make-up is in place and her hair under control rather than if the story is any good. She's determined to give the young girl her due. With some misrepresentation to her bosses, she manages to investigate what has happened to Kelly "Butter" Johnson. Georgia determines that Butter might have seen the shooter in the first group of murders and therefore have been taken to prevent her testifying as a witness. A truckload of guilt ensues when she realizes that she showed Butter in the background during the initial TV interview, which placed her in her present danger. Georgia does an incredible job of working with the family and the ghetto community to try to get Butter back.

During the course of events, Georgia runs into a detective named Doug Eckart who makes the blood in her veins flow a lot faster. Garland does a good job of showing the attraction between the two characters without falling into a lot of clichés. They clash with one another as they see the case from their different viewpoints of cop and reporter. There are other characters in the book who are well developed and instrumental to moving the plot along.

Garland does an awesome job of creating dialog, both of the professional black person and the neighborhood gang members. She also was very effective at delineating the job of a TV reporter. It was heartwarming to see Georgia overcome the obstacles placed before her because of her race and to use the TV medium to secure the release of an innocent child. Garland dealt with the issues revolving around gangs and race without getting heavyhanded or preachy. Overall, I found this to be an excellent book, one which I highly recommend. I particularly liked the lead character of Georgia Barnett and hope that this auspicious debut will lead to a long-running series. "Ardella Garland" is a pseudonym of author Yolanda Joe.

Note: This review is based on an out of print edition.

Reviewed by Maddy Van Hertbruggen, May 2003

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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