The Red Files

The Red Files - Lee  Winter Investigative reporters are a relatively rare breed in lesfic. Getting two of them together in one book and having them actually chase after a story the old-fashioned way is even rarer. That alone should be a good reason to snag this book.

But is it any good? Let's see.

Brash, ambitious and a with a good ear for the news, Lauren King got from writing about butter cows in Iowa to celebrity parties in L.A., but unfortunately, no further. On the other hand, Catherine Ayers career went in the other direction, from celebrated bureau chief of a news desk in Washington DC to lowly gossip columnist. Lauren had hoped her hard work, earnestness and interest in 'real' news would impress Ayers and net her a mentor and ally, but Ayers is cold, dismissive and downright vicious. An unusual development at a corporate launching pricked Lauren's news sense enough to raise an alarm. But Ayers smells it too and proposes a collaboration. Can Lauren stand going after the story with the Caustic Queen at her side 24/7 ? Can she even be trusted with not stealing the story for herself, knowing Ayers is itching for THE exclusive scoop to get her back in the game.

The author has a good ear for witty dialogue, and a keen eye for situation comedy. Her skits are laugh out loud and often ROFL-funny. But as the chase for the story begins to unearth dirty secrets and people start disappearing, the mood changes appropriately to one of urgency and danger. At first the mystery will seem silly and contrived (so much so that I was already prejudging the book as a lightweight romp) but nothing is as it seems, as our intrepid duo eventually find out. Twists and turns guarantee the reader's attention till the very end.The silliness and contrivance is actually deliberate--a mystery within a mystery :) I also liked how the author imbued such cliche supporting characters (gay bff, hacker pals, powerful supporter) with enough personality and stuff to do to make them stand out. Best of all, I liked how the romance (or almost lack of it) went. Ayers has had a lifetime building up her glacial front, and I was afraid the author would take the easy way out by having Lauren thaw her in one hot road trip. Its not that there isn't romance (its scorching hot when it flares, btw), just that the MCs don't let it get in the way of the all-important 'story'. When that's settled, a huge, huge payoff await the patient romantic (loved the angst!). A pack of tissues will come in handy. :)

This book joins a very rare club in my f/f reading history: Only two other books have ever hurt my tummy (from laughing) and my heart (from breaking) alternately in the same book: [b:The Blind Side of Love|17736248|The Blind Side of Love|Ingrid Díaz||25485730] and [b:Mina Borsalino Flips Out|13587078|Mina Borsalino Flips Out|Sara Marx||19174430]. This is the third.

5 stars

P.S. Huh, I can't believe the author is Ozzie! Could have sworn she's Iowan, lol. Good job with the Americanisms!

ARC received from Netgalley