A DANGEROUS FICTION
By Barbara Rogan
Jo Donovan, widowed young and taking over a literary agency from her mentor, has made a good life. She's terrific at what she does, and doesn't see many changes on the horizon. One night, she is accosted by a wanna-be author whose manuscript Jo's agency turned down. Soon, there are attacks against her business and even her clients. Suspicions are cast among the people at the agency and the police even wonder if Jo didn't have too much to gain when the attacks turn deadly.
In Barbara Rogan's smashing new thriller, Jo will have to look clearly at her colleagues, herself and her past if she's going to see it through.
Every aspect of A Dangerous Fiction works together and works so wonderfully well. Rogan's experience as a literary agent provides a fascinating look at how the business works. The hopes and dreams of writers are balanced against the realities of publishing. The personal life of the widow of a literary giant such as Jo and her pursuit by a biographer are played against each other well, and serve the story's marvelously realized journey of its protagonist. Anyone interested in a picture of how publishing works will be fascinated by the inner workings. As someone who once read unsolicited manuscripts for a mystery house, I can certainly attest to the quality of so many submissions in the scenes addressing this. Rogan's love of good books also shines through.
Jo is an interesting character who came up from nothing the hard way. That she didn't let her austere, loveless upbringing warp her is part of the reason the entire novel works so well. She is strong but not perfect (and the explanation of a "Mary Sue" character created by a fictional writer shows just how well Jo is developed). Her colleagues and writers are fascinating to watch. There are easily more heroes than suspects, and to have a strongly written novel in which so many characters are shown to be good-hearted is a pleasure to read.
And, while it may not be the most important part of the story to many, setting is strongly evoked throughout the novel. The bustle of Manhattan, the glory of a farmhouse, the entrancing Santa Fe are all portrayed in their best light. It's a treat to read a story in which it's so easy to picture the characters where they are, especially in the film-worthy final pages.
Just make certain you have time set aside when you start A Dangerous Fiction because this fast-paced novel is the kind you don't want to put down until the last page is read.
Barbara Rogan is a colleague at CompuServe's Books and Writers Community whose work I've enjoyed in the past. It was an honor and a treat to read her latest novel, and I'm in even more awe of her generous spirit.