“Below The Fold” by R. G. Belsky, is the second in the “Clare Carlson Mystery” series. Some events from book one were left unsettled, but the details are included as part of the current narrative, and the past story-line is seamlessly entwined with the current story. Every reader, both new and old, will enjoy this media-based story.
The prologue tantalizes and tempts readers. “She was always smarter than anyone else. She believed that right up until the… ‘My God, I’m going to die,’ she thought as the blows rained down upon her. Then there was just darkness.”
The book is a first person narrative by Clare Carlson, former Pulitzer Prize winning newspaper reporter and now a TV news director. The structure takes the form of a post-event recap session, an evaluation meeting between Clare and the reader. She talks directly to readers, “Now let me tell you something else.” She prepares readers for the story to follow, “Every human life is supposed to be important … But it’s not true … certainly not in the world of TV news where I work. Not all murders are equal in news worthiness … Especially when it comes to murder.” She compels readers to turn the page.
In a casual conversational style, readers hear what people say to Clare, what she says back, and how she feels about what is being said. “But it was a secret I couldn’t tell to anyone.” She shares her past, “A lifetime ago, when I was a nineteen-year-old college freshman.” She evaluates her life, “Hard to believe my marriages didn’t work out, huh?” She is a stubborn and dedicated journalist who must get the story, must follow it to the end, whatever that might be.
Clare finds a perfect story; a homeless woman was murdered on the streets of New York City. Who was she? How did she end up on the street? Who killed her? It becomes a much bigger story when another woman is murdered, and beside that victim is a list of names that includes prominent New Yorkers and the homeless woman. Readers trudge right along with Clare through a tangled web of political misbehavior, blackmail, money secrets, public meltdowns, and social-media justice.
Readers follow the process, make the connections, and decipher clues along with Clare, hoping that no hints are missed or no clues left unresolved. The plot is a roller-coaster ride, slow climb up, gradual acceleration, fast turn on the curves, a deceptive straightaway, and then a plummet to the bottom at breakneck speed. Just as the pieces start to make some kind of sense, the case falls apart, goes a different direction. “
“Below The Fold” is a realistic look behind the scenes in the high-stakes world of news media. Readers feel Clare’s pressure to get the story to the air first. I was given a review copy of “Below The Fold” by R. G. Belsky, and Oceanview Publishing. It is a spellbinding book; the tension is palpable; the ending is surprising.