Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Deceit - James Siegel

James Siegel
Warner Books


Once upon a time, just a few years ago, Tom Valle was a reporter on the fast track at a world-renowned newspaper. Then, his secret was revealed: over fifty of his stories were fabricated. That put an end to that part of his career, and he now lives and works in tiny Littleton, CA. He’s the reporter for a paper that publishes five times a week, if there’s enough news. His most recent assignment is to interview Belinda Washington, resident of a local nursing home, who is turning 100 today. She seems sharp enough, until she starts telling him that she’s seen her son recently. Her son has been dead for decades.

On the way out, Tom gets a call about a car accident. One car, driven by a man from Iowa, is demolished and completely burned, killing the man inside. The other car, driven by a salesman from Ohio, is damaged, but the driver is unharmed. Tom finds it odd that two men from such disparate places would end up in a wreck in a tiny town in California. The local law, knowing Tom’s history, is disinclined to listen to his theories. Tom, feeling that this may be the germ of a story that will put him back on top, starts investigating. It quickly becomes clear that someone doesn’t want the truth revealed.

DECEIT is an excellent novel of the web spun by truth and lies. Untangling that web leads very easily to paranoia. Was it just fate that Tom got the accident story? Or did the accident happen where and when it did, because Tom would not be a credible reporter? Tom is a flawed but ultimately likeable character who tells the story from his point of view. His honesty and self-effacing humor are disarming and entertaining. I enjoyed the forays into the past as much as the action in the present. The author manages to adroitly weave together seemingly unconnected people and events into one whole story.

Rating: 8
August 2006
ISBN# 0-446-53186-3 (hardcover)


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