“Black Swan Rising”

black“Black Swan Rising” by Lisa Brackmann sets the tone in the opening lines.

“They’d found her new email address. No one here knew who she used to be, she told herself. But she knows I deserved that money, she thought.” Thus, readers embark on a journey of intrigue, deception, and revenge filled with unpredictable events that have massive impacts.

Congress is always a demanding workplace, but working in communications in the office of Representative Matthew Cason is especially stressful during his first reelection campaign. The campaign is volatile and hectic. The team needs to create a message specifically for the campaign, something that would pop, get people excited. They needed a consistent style and voice across all social platforms. Then the phone call came.

“I know some things about your opponents that you might find interesting. I can help you, Sarah. If I give you information, that makes you valuable. You’d like that, wouldn’t you? Being valuable?”

Brackmann intertwines several complex stories that converge and depart throughout the book. Across town, a TV reporter, the victim of a shooting, decides that she will exploit her assault and advance her career by investigating the shooter.

“What do you think about a special report? A series about the long-term repercussions of a tragedy like this?” Jordan crossed his arms over his belly. Thinking it through. “So the angle is … you?” She smiled. “Who better?”

The plot is complex and packed with contemporary topics. The storyline is driven by personal conversations, social media comments, Twitter feeds, press releases, and news post. The examples lend realism and contemporary authenticity, but they also interrupt the flow of the story.

There is just too much going on in this book. The overabundance of “current-event topics” (me too, domestic terrorism, political corruption, gun control, mass shootings) seems to overshadow and confuse the underlying plot. Many of the “posts” are just about unrelated violent incidents and do nothing to advance the plot. It makes the book appear to be a vehicle for promoting gun control through concocting stories in a book. A leaner story with more action and less lobbying and exploiting would have made a compelling thriller.

I was given a copy of “Black Swan Rising” by Lisa Brackmann, Midnight Ink, and NetGalley. Ignoring the abundance of “news” posts, it was an interesting and current book. Brackman is certainly on the correct writing path with this contemporary storyline. It could have been pulled from today’s pages of any big city newspaper. I absolutely will read her next book, and I just hope it will be a little leaner

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