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by Hilary Bonner
St Martin's Minotaur, May 2006
368 pages
ISBN: 0312339488

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

John Kelly is a reporter with a troubled past. At the height of his career, he was a big shot reporter on Fleet Street. He won numerous awards, traveled the globe and allowed his obsessive nature to consume him. His vices included womanizing, drugs and alcohol. Kelly has overcome his addictions and is now a reporter for a small daily paper. While his marriage ended years ago, he is now friends with his son and has a new woman in his life.

Famous rocker Scott Silver is murdered in his home. It appears that a robber broke in and killed Scott. Angel, Scott's wife, then killed said robber in self-defense. DCI Karen Meadows points Kelly in the direction of the story as a favor to an old friend. Ultimately, Meadows is not sure if the decision was a sound one. Kelly wants this story and will do everything in his power to help.

He also has something of history with Angel. Years before, she was the typical child star turned bad and Kelly helped her out of a difficult and dangerous situation. Now, Kelly feels the need to help again. Not only does he want to help, he also wants the exclusive story regardless of the consequences. Unfortunately, Kelly risks losing the relationship he has with his son and with his girlfriend to gain this exclusive. As the story and Angel begin consuming him, Kelly might even lose his grasp on reality -- especially as he discovers Angel might not have been truthful in her explanation or actions.

A MOMENT OF MADNESS deals with the concept of obsession and addiction. In fact, even the title implies the loss of control to an outside force. Angel Silver is obsessed with the lifestyle she has. She wants the money and the power and the drugs. As a child star, she did drugs and now as an adult she does drugs. This obsession and addiction is not something she ever gave up. John Kelly is tormented by his past actions yet he is not always able to control his current ones. He claims that smoking is his only vice but he merely channels all of his obsessive behavior into his job. This obsession forces him to ignore everything outside of the story in his selfish quest for glory.

I did not enjoy MOMENT OF MADNESS, although most of the reasons I disliked the book have to do with my own personal reading prejudices rather than a flaw with the book itself. John Kelly is not the type of protagonist that I enjoy reading about as I tend to spend a lot of the book hoping he does not do anything stupid rather than following the plot. If the reader can overlook Kelly's personality flaws, then he or she should enjoy the book as it is well written and thought-provoking.

Reviewed by Sarah Dudley, June 2006

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