The Newsmakers (Lis Wiehl) – Review

4 stars

Publisher’s Overview
Erica Sparks is a beautiful and ambitious reporter who has just landed her dream job at Global News Network in New York. And while it was hard to leave Jenny, her cherished eight-year-old daughter, in the custody of her ex-husband, Erica is determined to succeed in the cutthroat world of big-time broadcasting. She can only hope her troubled past won’t come back to sabotage her dreams.

Although the wounds from her divorce are still fresh, Erica can’t deny the chemistry between her and her new producer, the handsome and empathetic Greg Underwood. But a relationship is the last thing she wants right now.

On her very first assignment, Erica inadvertently witnesses—and films—a horrific tragedy, scooping all the other networks. Mere weeks later, another tragedy strikes—again, right in front of Erica and her cameras. Her career skyrockets overnight, but Erica is troubled. Deeply. This can’t just be coincidence. But what is it?

Erica will stop at nothing to uncover the truth. But she has to make sure disaster—and her troubled past—don’t catch up with her first.


Erica and Nylan enter the hotel lobby and are walking toward the ballroom when Meryl Streep approaches.  It’s a surreal moment for Erica to see the actress – whom she adores – just a few feet away.  “I’m a fan,” Meryl says.  “I think you’ve shown true grace under pressure.”
“I’d say thank you but I’m speechless.”
She shares a laugh with Meryl Streep – with Meryl Streep – and then she and Nylan enter the ballroom and make their way toward their table.  Erica sees Katie Couric, who waves; and Bill O’Reilly, who calls, “Keep up the no spin, Sparks!”; and Megyn Kelly, who gives her a thumbs-up; and Kathie Lee Gifford, who blows her a kiss.  There’s also Kerry Washington and Julia Roberts and Sofia Vergara and Denzel Washington and, yes, George Clooney.  At their table!  President Garner and First Lady Ginny Garner are at the dais, along with senators, cabinet members, and media executives.
The energy in the room is crackling, dazzling, dizzying, everyone is groomed and glistening and golden, strangers are smiling at Erica as if she belongs.  And she does belong.  Doesn’t she?  No matter where she came from.  No matter how many mistakes she’s made in the past.  This is now, the present racing into the future, a future filled with infinite promise.


My Review
I’ll admit it.  Present tense irks me.  Even more so when it’s in the third person.  But at the same time, this was a compelling read, and I have to confess, I think the third person present tense contributed to that.  I guess I can’t really say for sure without reading the exact same story written in the past tense, but the present tense seemed to give it an extra sense of urgency and forward momentum.  Yes, the plot and the fast paced writing also contributed, but despite being jarred by the present tense from time to time, I’m not convinced the story would have been improved by writing it in the past tense.

My enjoyment of this story was derived not so much from finding out who was orchestrating the news (even the way this book has been marketed gives a fairly strong hint), as it was from seeing how the events played out.  There was this sense of always being on high alert, waiting for the next thing to happen, and suspecting (or even knowing) who was behind it didn’t detract from the thrill of the ride.  There were also many interpersonal tensions playing out over the course of the novel: Erica’s urgency to prove herself so she can regain custody of her daughter, the fierce rivalry within GNN, the attraction to her producer.  She is constantly walking a fine line between playing the game and chasing the story, and one wrong step could have serious repercussions, either for herself or those she cares about.

Lis Wiehl’s own experience in the news industry is evident in this novel, rich in the little details without becoming intrusive. The one thing I didn’t quite feel convinced by was the scene at the climax – there was something a little . . . orchestrated? I don’t know. It was almost too easy, or something. But by this time my reading speed was adrenaline fueled, so maybe I wasn’t taking it in properly!

Despite being published by a Christian publisher, I wouldn’t describe this as Christian fiction.  There is no spiritual content, apart from a few mentions of Erica uttering the Serenity Prayer, and I was not entirely comfortable with Erica’s personal situation with her divorce and subsequent attraction to Greg Underwood. I know remarriage after divorce is a sensitive issue, and obviously these characters are not real people, but I wasn’t convinced I should be barracking for Erica and Greg to get together. Obviously that is a sentiment many other readers won’t share, and in any case, romance is not the focus of this novel. There were also a few words used through the book that I don’t use myself – not the big ones, just a few slightly crass terms (bas***d, mon***l, kick-a**, bullc**p, sonofa***ch used once each), but they may turn some Christian readers off.

If you pick this up specifically looking for a Christian read, you may be disappointed, but as a thriller judged on its own merit, it was a fast paced and compelling read.

I received a copy of this book through the Book Look Bloggers program in exchange for an honest review.

Buy from:              

Release Date:   19 January 2016
Pages:  352
Publisher:  Thomas Nelson
Author’s Website:

About Fiction Aficionado

Homeschooling mum, word lover, reader extraordinaire, and follower of Christ
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