Thursday, February 22, 2024

The Anchor

Jen has toiled away in television news, just waiting for a big break. And at the same time she finally gets a shot at the promotion opportunity she’s waited years for, head anchor for the nightly newscast, an unseen, shadowy man is desperate for her to notice him. When messages and well wishes don’t do the trick, her mysterious admirer intends to do anything necessary to make Jen a success and snare her attention, even if it means attacking her fiancĂ© and killing off her competition.

my review...

I’ve read several of Kevin Doyle’s books. They are good, but I think this one is best. Very often, things happen to someone, and we tend to think it can’t happen to us. In The Anchor, so many people have their head down trying to compete for that one glorified spot at the news desk, it just doesn’t occur to them that the crime could be about them. Someone, a reporter, has an inkling of related crimes, but most think he’s on the wrong track. It takes them a long time to figure out he isn’t nuts.

Here’s what’s good about this book. The “long time to figure it out” was never boring reading. Truth is, I didn’t figure it out til the end either.

This is well written and can be read as a stand-alone. I think this is true of all his books.

Most of them would make good tv shows. This one especially.

read an excerpt... 

One of the first pieces of advice Lew Jacobs had given her upon promoting her to the morning desk had been to toughen up as much as possible.

 And to do it right away.

 “You’re going to get people calling, e-mailing, and tweeting in. Hell, we still have a working fax machine in the office for people to complain that way. Don’t worry about the Contact page on the website. The only folks who use that are the ones who want to say how much they like what you’re doing. But you know the old saying about restaurant service, right?”

Jen had given him a blank look. The boss had continued.

“A satisfied customer will tell one or two people what a great meal he had at your place. A dissatisfied one will tell everyone he knows what a shithole operation you have. Sorry for the profanity, kid, but that’s the best way to put it.”

Jen had nodded, still not sure of his overall point.

“When it comes to the station website, the ones who take the time to type in all those required fields, plus muck around with matching those damned security words at the bottom, are so patient because they want to go on and on about how much they love your show or a story you did. But the ones who are pissed at you, and that’s going to be the overwhelming majority, they can’t wait that long. They have to fire off their opinions as quick as possible. And believe me, they will. You could do an entire broadcast around the theme of puppies and rainbows, and some nitwit will call in, complaining that your material is too dark.”

Before her promotion to the desk, Jen had worked as a general assignment reporter for a little over three years. She’d thought she understood the phenomenon of irate, dissatisfied viewers venting at the station. But listening to Jacobs, she’d realized that what waited for her was a whole new level of said phenomenon.

And she assumed he knew what he was talking about. Jen wasn’t sure how old her boss was, but considering that he’d begun with the station as a reporter himself back in the mid-seventies, he had to be somewhere up in the higher range of his sixties.

Jacobs was a dinosaur in more ways than his age, however. A legend both at the station and in the Riverside community overall, he was one of those rare news people ending his career, decades later, at the same place where he started. He was damned good at his job, and Jen figured that somewhere over the years, some bigger stations must have recruited him in larger markets, but for some reason, he’d elected to stay here in central Kansas.

It took no time at all for her to realize how on the nose Jacobs’s cautions had been. Sometimes, people would call in or tweet, full of umbrage that Jen had dared to include on the Monday morning news the results of the NFL game the day before when their favorite team had been shellacked.

The tone something along the lines of how dare she perpetuate such a demoralizing story.

Now, seeing a message appear five minutes after the show closed, she hurried to trace back over every story and segment they’d done, even the ones piped in from the national network, looking for something she’d done wrong. With the possibility of Karyn’s nighttime slot opening soon, Jen knew she couldn’t be doing anything that would cause her to lose points in management’s eyes.

Her initial mental scan not uncovering anything, she mentally said the hell with it and opened the message. She didn’t recognize the sender’s address, but maybe it was something innocuous.

Even congratulatory.

Then again, maybe not.

The message contained a single sentence, done in all caps.


about Kevin Doyle...


A high-school teacher, former college instructor, and fiction writer, Kevin R. Doyle is the author of numerous short horror stories. He’s also written three crime thrillers, The Group, When You Have to Go There, and And the Devil Walks Away, and one horror novel, The Litter. In the last few years, he’s begun working on the Sam Quinton private eye series, published by Camel Press. The first Quinton book, Squatter’s Rights, was nominated for the 2021 Shamus award for Best First PI Novel.  The second book, Heel Turn, was released in March of 2021, while the third in the series, Double Frame, came out in March of 2022. The fourth Sam Quinton book, Clean Win, will be released in March of 2023.


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