The Red Files
by Lee Winter
Date: September 1 2015
Publisher: Ylva Publishing
Rating: 4.5 out of 5.0
Read: February 8 2016
Well, let me see what I can put together for this book here. Slightly harder now, since I’m about 50% into the second book I’ve started since ending ‘The Red Files’.
Somewhat needless to say, considering this is the first book by this author, but I feel vaguely that I need to note that this is the first book I’ve read by this author.
I had somewhat randomly decided to read this book here, not as random as pure chance – I mean, it was one of the 22 or so books that had been picked to be read February or March. But random as to starting it when I did (I believe I might have been on a train or something without access to anything except my Kindle). So it wasn’t until I’d been 19% into the book that I realized that the vast majority of the reading public seemed to really really love this book. (Actually, it might have not been until the 35% mark, but not important). And by love, I mean love. There are a total of 130 ratings for this book – 81 of which (62%) are 5 star. 42 are 4 star (32%), and just 7 are 3 star (5%). There are no ratings lower than 3 stars. And GoodReads takes that arrangement of ratings to mean ‘100% of people liked it’.
I only mention all that because suddenly realizing that 100% of the people who read the book liked it . . . kind of puts vague pressure on me. Or something. (ack, I just noticed that the person who never ever actually leaves a star rating, actually left a 5 star rating; see, pressure, heh).
Ah, now I see. It was at 36% of the book when I noticed everyone loved it. I see now where I wrote something about the book – though not in my status updates. I had noted that:
The characterization is vaguely annoying me so far, 36% into the book.
At the beginning of the book everything seemed to indicate that Lauren was around 23 or so. The things people said, especially her boss, and her own internal thoughts seemed to indicate that her experience involved a journalism degree, and participation on the college paper before going to LA. (What with Frank, her boss, saying something like 'your experience is a joke', while Lauren's thinking things like 'but I have a journalism degree!'). 23 since she's been on the LA paper for a year now.
But the reader learns from conversations that occur between Lauren and Ayer during their drive from LA to Carson City that Lauren worked for a small paper for a couple of years after college (21 to 23). Then Lauren had worked for a paper that even Ayer recognized, for at least ten years ('a person ten years my junior is getting the work I want, while I keep getting told to be patient'; so that moves her age from 23 to 33). Then Lauren moves to LA. Assuming that she got her current job immediately (and it’s possible, since she kind of indicated that she arrived on her last savings, and took the only job offered – meaning that she couldn’t wait a week/month/year before starting at her current job (this is another reason why I had thought she was roughly 22 to 23 when the book opened – because that indication that she arrived on her last dime with no savings and needing to take the first job, even if it wasn’t one she wanted, is something someone exiting college does, not someone moving over from another paper that she had worked on for 10 years). Lauren then worked there at her current job for about a year or less (almost a year I think it was stated at some point). So her age moves from 33 to 34. So Lauren should be roughly 34 years of age. Or thereabouts. Mind you, she acts like someone who is roughly 23.
Then there's the 'experienced bitter old woman of the news, forced to work entertainment news when she'd rather work 'real' news' (otherwise known as Political news (tis funny as I know some reporters who look down on political news and wouldn’t think of it as ‘real’ news (these being people who work the crime beat, specifically the same kind who would break political corruption stories, going for the crime angle). I didn't really know anything about Ayer by the 36% point of the book (though she seems to come off as someone in her, say, 60s). Only thought I had was - if she's so bitter about working in entertainment, why's she always dressed in atypical clothing for having that attitude - rich clothing, perfect clothing to handle entertainment news. I probably got confused from what I've seen. Though it seemed as if people who worked the political beat didn't dress like Ayer is dressing (unless they knew they'd end up on camera, like if they sat in the audience of a press conference). But even then - that wouldn't be the latest LA fashions.
To a certain extent, I wish I had learned of the Australianness of the author before starting the book, or after finishing. Because starting around the point I noticed, the 36% mark, I kept seeing everyone as stereotypes. Vaguely off stereotypes. The 'naive young hick from small town rural-burg who always dresses like she's off to a rodeo' - except that she's actually in her 30s, has experience, and lived for at least 10 years in a metropolitan area of roughly 612,000 people (which, I realize, isn't 18.5 million of LA metro area, but still isn't a farming village). The stereotypical political hack who is now forced to work in a ‘lesser’ field of entertainment. As, gag, a gossip columnist. And then there’s the seemingly stereotypical gay guy best friend of Lauren’s. We don’t actually learn enough of Joshua to move him into or out of that stereotypical role.
This is one of those books wherein the reader only sees things from one point of view – that of Lauren. I did not particularly like being stuck within just one person’s head. But, no matter.
Lauren King is a woman of roughly 34 years of age who has striven since seemingly the beginning of either her life, or college, to make it to the ‘real’ news of political reporting. She failed at the small town paper, reporting, as she did, on beauty pageants, crop yields, and other such things. Failed, again, to make the transition to political reporting when she moved to a ‘big’ newspaper in Des Moines Iowa. And finally, after 10 years there, gave up trying to get her editors to accept her over on the political side, and quit. Moved to L.A. Book opens roughly a year after she moved, a year after taking the only job she could get in the news – as an entertainment reporter. She has a great political story she wants to follow, but her boss has taken that story from her and given it to someone else. Her deep evil archrival, who just happens to work at the same paper, has ‘helped’ spread a viral video of Lauren King fighting and screaming that she wanted to show someone her goats. Maybe it’s time to move on?
Catherine Ayers is a woman who comes from money, worked hard, and rose high in the newspaper business. Was a regional bureau head in Washington DC for her paper. Until one story tanked her career. And now, at the opening of this book, she is working out the remaining months of her contract. Working as an entertainment reporter. Some might call her a gossip columnist, but don’t say that to her face or she’d gut them, verbally. She’s roughly 44, based on a publicist friend of Lauren’s who says that Ayers is 10 years older than Lauren.
Lauren King and Catherine Ayers attend a business party for … (SmartCard? EasyCard? EasyPay? Bah, I forget what the company’s name is now) that involves two governors (Nevada and California), a number of political people of various levels, many A-list celebrities (hence entertainment reporters at the party), and 34 women with real looking tans and real looking breasts. That’s actually important, the breasts and tans. It’s one of the first things Lauren noticed and clued her in on the fact that something fishy was going on. So, smelling a story, Lauren investigates. Trails behind them when they leave. Talks with a bus driver. Learns that they, all 34 women, were bused in from Nevada (I forget now if she found out then or later, that they were bused in from a brothel).
So, the mystery involves: why did these women turn up at a business party that included politicians? It is solved by two rivals. See, Catherine had noticed Lauren’s investigating and wants in. And, so, the two work on the case.
Got a little weird and farfetched, but interesting non-the-less.
The less said the better, probably.
The book was interesting. I kind of hovered, throughout, on how much I did or didn’t like the book. I don’t think I was ever in risk of pausing or not finishing the book, but I didn’t particularly like any of the characters – at least not until the mystery part started – whereupon Lauren, at least, started to grow on me. Well, both did, but Ayers kind of annoyed me during the ‘romance’ part so she moved back to being . . .um. . not as well liked.
Is this book supposed to have humor? I don’t specifically see anything that says it is supposed to in the description. Plot kind of had elements that seemed like humor was one of the underlying themes, especially with one of the main characters fighting someone while screaming about goats, but if so, I didn’t find anything funny. *shrug* I don’t deduct any points because of that issue, because, as I said, I do not see anything in the description that specifically indicates that the author was actually going for humor.
Personally I think I might have enjoyed the book more if the walls of bitter rivals had been broken and some form of easy or uneasy friendship broke out. Instead of, say, romance. I just didn’t see any chemistry between Lauren and Ayers, and it really seemed, probably only to me, to be forced. I suppose Lesbian Romances sell more than Lesbian Mysteries, so . ....
Well, the long and short of it is that I’d probably rate this book somewhere between 4 and 5 stars. 4.5? 4.3? 4.6? Somewhere around 4.5 stars.
February 11 2016