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Review: 'Yesterday's Fatal,' by Jan Brogan

Published: Jun 24, 2007

"Yesterday's Fatal," by Jan Brogan (St. Martin's Minotaur, $25)

Our era's decline of the daily newspaper may be making that institution less relevant, but as a backdrop to Jan Brogan's mysteries, the newsroom hasn't lost its cachet. A relatively green reporter, heroine Hallie Ahern nevertheless knows a great story when she smells one.

She also has the best attribute of an investigative reporter: the killer instinct.

Speaking of killers, Brogan's novels are mysteries. "Yesterday's Fatal" refers to a one-car accident Ahern stumbles upon. The characteristics of the victim, a young woman, don't add up to "accident." But Ahern can't interest law enforcement or her editors in the apparent murder of a poor immigrant. She starts snooping - to the point of attending the woman's funeral, hanging out at the dog track and arranging encounters with one of Rhode Island's scariest gangsters.

While her newspaper's investigative team is forced to ignore what could be a major insurance-scam scandal, humiliation trumps fear as team member Ahern must join her colleagues in the trivial pursuit of shadowing a government bureaucrat who supposedly is spending too few hours in the office.

A flickering romance, a struggle for complete mastery of her gambling addiction and a change in ownership of the newspaper all make for amusing subplots. Brogan's writing makes for a crisp page turner.

Andrea Brunais of Tampa is a freelance writer.

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