I’m so excited to be on The Cutaway blog tour today. Alongside my review, I have a fabulous extract from the book!!
When brilliant TV news producer Virginia Knightly receives a disturbing -MISSING- notice on her desk related to the disappearance of a beautiful young attorney, she can’t seem to shake the image from her head. Despite skepticism from her colleagues, Knightly suspects this ambitious young lawyer may be at the heart of something far more sinister, especially since she was last seen leaving an upscale restaurant after a domestic dispute. Yet, as the only woman of power at her station, Knightly quickly finds herself investigating on her own.
Risking her career, her life, and perhaps even her own sanity, Knightly dives deep into the dark underbelly of Washington, DC business and politics in an investigation that will drag her mercilessly through the inextricable webs of corruption that bind the press, the police, and politics in our nation’s capital.
I read The Cutaway mostly in one sitting, my nose sinking further and further down to meet the page, engrossed as I was, completely out of sync with the world around me. This book is very addictive, as your tired eyes will definitely attest to by the time you finish reading. I can’t recommend it enough. There are so many specifics that make this a stand out read: from it’s intriguing premise to its evocative narrative, within mere moments you wholly surrender all your attention to its grasp.
This beautifully dynamic story emanates authenticity and intrigue. I haven’t read anything as submerged in the world of media as this before and it was such a breath of fresh air. I loved how this book gives us an insight into the world of broadcasting. Setting aside, the story, I found it fascinating.
When TV producer, Virginia Knightly finds a missing person’s press release on her desk, she is immediately drawn to the case of young attorney, Evelyn Carney who went missing from Georgetown soon after leaving a busy restaurant one evening. By some affinity with Evelyn, Virginia delves into the mystery surrounding her but as her private and professional life plummet into disarray, she is inextricable drawn into the seedy world of politics and into the darkness that walks hand in hand with corruption.
I really liked Virginia as a character. She is a bit of an enigma in the first half of the book, albeit a very ambitious enigma. But as the story progressed, as did a sense of familiarity with her as a person. We were given a deeper understanding of who she is and of what lies in her past, and each of these facets were beautifully distributed into the novel.
“It began with someone else‘s story. In the beginning, a woman went out to meet a man, and on her long walk, she disappeared.”
This isn’t a fast-paced thriller, it’s a little slower than what you’d probably expect from the blurb but wow, is it good. I actually really liked the fact that is was a little bit slower. It gives us enough time to digest every aspect of this book and I think to fully appreciate Virginia as a character. We’re with her completely on her journey as a news producer and a woman hunting down the answers to Evelyn’s disappearance but also as determined, strong individual, who relies on no one but herself. Also, not only is there mystery inhabiting this novel, there is a hint of romance weaving through it too. Suffice to say, I really, really enjoyed The Cutaway!
If you are in need of a new kind of thriller, this is the perfect solution. As soon as you read the first sentence, it anchors you down into the story and suppresses every school of thought but for one: the excellence of this novel.
Original. Authentic. Brilliant.
And now… I’m so very excited to have an extract from The Cutaway here. This is Chapter Six and it is fabulous!
The best part of the day is show time. I always watched the show from the control room with its wall of monitors and flashes of video feeding in and the boop-boop-boop of the countdown to each story. In the control room, the work came together, alive with sound and color and movement, and it gave a wondrous feeling I tried to hold on to, because also lurking was the ever-present fear that somehow we’d missed a story or that some news might break and bust the show’s rundown all to hell or that something would go wrong—because something always went wrong—and I would have to fix it fast. That was my job.
But today I skipped all that and went home. Not that I’d been told to stay away or anything. I just didn’t want to see Mellay doing my job. Problem was, sitting around the house made me fidgety, the silence sharpened by the bare white walls and hard surfaces of my few furnishings, when what I really wanted was the thrill of the control room or even the shouting and chaos of the newsroom—so much that it felt like withdrawal.
At six o’clock I ate supper in front of the television. Ben was the lead of the show. I’d written the script, but he brought it to life, talking to the camera like he was telling a friend a story about a lost woman. How Evelyn had been late meeting her husband at the restaurant, and when she arrived, told him she no longer wanted to be married. How she’d left her husband stunned with a table full of food. The hostess watched a distressed Evelyn stumble from the restaurant. Where did she go from there, investigators wanted to know. Had anyone seen her after she’d turned that corner?
My cell phone rang. It was Paige Linden, Evelyn’s friend who hadn’t wanted to talk. Now she was telling me about a vigil she was planning for Evelyn. She had printed out fliers and asked some coworkers to hand them out in Georgetown tonight. “Could your station do the story?” she asked.
Of course, I’d send a photographer to shoot pictures. “What I’d really like is to interview you on camera.”
She hesitated. “There’s so much to do,” she said. “I haven’t even contacted other news outlets yet.”
“Maybe I can help.” I flipped open my laptop. From an old press release in my email, I copied the email addresses of reporters at other stations and pasted the list into the body of an email, along with the draft of a typical press release for a missing person vigil. It was the work of a moment. It might seem a little out of the box, giving Paige a template to invite my competition, but she’d have gotten them anyway. In the time she saved, maybe she’d talk. Besides, it was important to establish reciprocity. A relationship with a potential source is like any other relationship. You couldn’t just take. You had to give a little, too.
“Use this if you like,” I said, typing her address into the line and clicking send. “Press releases follow this format. If you email them to a reporter’s phone, it’s more efficient than trying to chase them down by calling their newsrooms. Especially during happy hour,” I joked. “You receive the doc yet?”
She hummed. “This is exactly what I need. Thank you.”
Before we hung up, she agreed to meet after the vigil, no cameras. And yes, she said in her lovely melodious voice—yes, yes, yes—she’d speak only with me.
I took a cab to Georgetown, getting out at the corner where the hostess had last seen Evelyn, and followed the route Evelyn must have taken. The brick walkway sloped toward the waterfront, past pretty shops and restaurants in historic buildings. This part of the city was usually busy, and tonight there was a mix of middle-aged professionals and couples on dates and some hard-faced teens in hoodies. A group of college guys who’d been drinking pretty heavily brushed past me. Among the crowd, a man’s voice cried out: “‘Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?’ ”
Goose bumps rose along my nape. Ahead of me, the college guys staggered around a homeless woman rocking herself on the sidewalk. She had a face the color and texture of a peach pit, and her eyes were so pale they appeared milky.
From a distance, the street preacher called out again: “ ‘Why do you endanger yourself every hour? I face death, even as I pray for you—’ ” Someone started playing the plastic bucket drums. My feet picked up the rhythm. At the corner of Wisconsin and M streets, the Corinthian columns of the bank framed the vigil.
I found a spot in the shadow of the bank column, where I could study the group. There was a young guy darting out at the cars stopped at the busy intersection to hand out posters. The others were dressed in business attire and chatting as you might if you’d just left those same people in the office moments earlier. They held lit candles, and there were flashes from the print photographers and lights on top of television cameras, and the lights were all moving. At the center of it all was Paige Linden.
She was taller than I’d expected, standing chin to chin with the men. Her strong face was framed by ash blond hair tucked behind her ears, and she wore silver hoops that swung as she shook her head vigorously, arguing with a blond man whose back was to me.
Someone bumped me from my blind side, knocking the satchel from my shoulder. “Sorry,” I said, reflexively, to the pale, doughy-faced girl who’d come up from behind.
“Better watch yourself,” she warned before rounding the column, soon out of sight.
When I turned back to the vigil, the man Paige had been arguing with was gone. Now Paige was chatting with a female police captain and a tall, middle-aged man with the sloped shoulders and husky frame of a laborer. He wore a brown tweed blazer and a pink tie. The cameras circled them.
I showed my press passes to a man in an overcoat who was stuffing leftover candles into a box. “That’s Paige Linden in the middle of everything, right?”
He glanced over. “Sure is.”
“And the man she’d been with a few moments ago? Blond hair cut short, medium height, thin?”
“You’re probably talking about Ian, I guess? Ian Chase?”
Of course I recognized the name. He was an assistant US attorney downtown. A few years back, he’d gotten a lot of press for the successful prosecution of corruption within the city government. The mayor had been implicated, but only his cronies had been charged. It had been a very big story. Since then, Ian Chase had been promoted to the Homicide Section as its chief.
“I don’t see Ian anymore,” I said, standing on my toes.
The stout man glanced around. “Huh, no. Must’ve left.”
I asked around about Evelyn, but few knew her. They were mostly acquaintances or friends of Paige Linden, who was working the crowd. She touched one woman lightly on the sleeve. To another, she gave a soft, sad smile. When her eyes locked with mine, she cut through her admirers with an easy confidence.
“Virginia Knightly, right?” she said, holding out her hand. Her grip was strong. She looked down at me, unblinking, and her eyes briefly unfocused. It gave me a weird feeling, almost like a premonition. Then her face lit with a wide smile, and the feeling was gone. She was really very lovely when she smiled.
“Thanks so much for helping with the press release,” she said. “We got a good turnout, didn’t we?”
“You did, yes.”
She agreed to let me buy her a warm drink. When we got to the coffee shop across the street, I reached for my wallet, but it was gone. I dug deeper in the satchel where everything lost always turned up, but no wallet.
I never carried credit cards in the field, so it wasn’t a complete catastrophe. My press passes and identification cards hung safely in plastic sleeves on a lanyard around my neck. But I’d lost cash and the business card I’d wanted to give Paige.
Could I have left my wallet at home? No, I had it when I paid the cabbie.
“Is something wrong?” Paige said.
And then I remembered the girl who bumped me. It must have happened then. “My plan was to treat you,” I said with an apology. “But I’m pretty sure someone lifted my wallet.”
Isn’t it amazing?!
If you would like to buy The Cutaway here is the link!
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Huge thanks to Jess at Serpent’s Tail for my review copy and for including me on the blog tour!