From School Library Journal
Adult/High School—This fast-paced whodunit entertains on several levels. A domineering, powerful, spiteful editor of a major national newspaper is found murdered with the same spike in his chest that he used to kill reporters' stories. A young, single, clever female detective teams up with a young, single, clever male reporter to solve the case. The evidence points to a multitude of suspects. Then another victim is found dead, and then, still another. Each time, the method of murder is more gruesome, and more telling. Obviously, the murderer (murderers?) is sending a message, but exactly what that message is remains elusive. The suspense mounts, and most readers will remain puzzled to the end. In addition to these elements of a traditional mystery, readers are treated to an inside look at a rapidly changing, and some would say dying, profession of print journalism. With considerable attention to detail, Darnton portrays the key players in this transformation: the resentful old guard, the clueless publisher, the aggressive career builders, the talented but unappreciated reporters, the self-centered columnists, and the ruthless international media tycoon. With abundant wit and panache, the author navigates his way between the rising cliffs of cynicism and romanticism to arrive at some semblance of truth concerning this not-yet-expired institution in our society. The daily newspaper is still alive in America, even if several newspaper workers are dead all over in Darnton's entertaining and enlightening tale.—Robert Saunderson, Berkeley Public Library, CA
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Reviewers for the nation’s major newspapers clearly loved this comic romp through their own stomping grounds. Anyone in the habit of reading the New York Times
will have no trouble recognizing a few of the book’s characters, and reporters and editors will probably share a great deal of the author’s gallows humor. After all, Darnton did spend 40 years as a reporter, editor, and foreign correspondent for the New York Times
, and Black & White
is a tribute to an earlier era of reporting. A few critics cited some clunky dialogue and flat characters; others mentioned that only journalists will fully understand the satire and “heart” of the book, and the humor typical of the newsroom. Most, however, described the novel as a highly successful media satire and a page-turning tale of intrigue.
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