Posts Tagged Hank Phillippi Ryan

The Wrong Girl: book review

wrong girl

The Wrong Girl by Hank Phillippi Ryan. Publisher: Forge (September 2013). Suspense/Thriller. Hardcover. 368 pages. ISBN 978-0-7653-3258-5.

“Jane kept up her smile. She was tired of explaining why she’d been fired, and even more tired of accepting sympathy and support because she had protected a source. It was over, she had a new job, she was happy happy happy. And as she so often heard, nobody watched local TV anymore. Which, truth be told, made her even happier.”

Thrillers might be the most popular genre in fiction after romance novels. So what makes this one stand out? A smart protagonist, Jane Ryland, works as a print journalist, not a medical examiner or private investigator or federal agent or police officer. She’s attractive yet not look-obsessed, relationship-obsessed or baby-obsessed. Her number one source is a police detective. Jake Brogan’s super-smart (Ivy-league educated) and handsome. There’s certainly a spark between Jane and Jake yet they’ve not done anything for fear it’ll jeopardize their careers. Author Hank Phillippi Ryan vividly describes Boston using her targeted knowledge of the city’s neighborhoods and intricate workings that keep the municipalities running day to day.

An ex-colleague at Jane’s newspaper arrives at her apartment in distress. She feels that the adoption agency sent her to a woman who can’t possibly be her birth mother. After taking a few steps back to consider the familiarly of their relationship (it’s strictly a working one), Jane decides it could be a possible story and decides to tag along with Tucker to find out more information about what might be going on. It turns out that Tucker may have been right to question her uneasiness at the meeting with her supposed birth mother. As Jane delves deeper into this adoption agency, she finds something menacing behind the beneficence.

Meanwhile Jake’s caught not one but two murders. One, a single mother of two children. He also finds a crib at the apartment where she’s murdered which completely befuddles him and leads the case in an unusual direction. The other case finds him crossing paths with Jane. A woman murdered, staged to look like a suicide, runs the private adoption agency that placed Tucker so many years ago.

Weaving together people and places by providing the ideal details and twists to keep questions flowing and keeping you wondering what exactly might be going on, Phillippi Ryan wrote a winner. She’s an amazing investigative journalist demonstrated by the creative manner in which she creates fascinating characters and concocts a disconcerting, riveting mystery. The Wrong Girl is an absolute page-turner that’ll keep you up late into the night.

RATING: ****/5

–review by Amy Steele

FTC Disclosure: I received this book for review from the publisher.

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Fall Books on My Radar

September Releases:

wrong girl

sister mother husband dog


help for the haunted



October Releases:

valley of amazement


we are water

dirty love

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The Other Woman: book review

The Other Woman by Hank Phillippi Ryan. Publisher: Forge (September 4, 2012). Mystery/thriller. Hardcover. 416 pages. ISBN 978-0-7653-3257-8.

Every time I review a mystery, I say that I don’t read that many mysteries and it’s true. Of the 60-100 books I read each year, only about 10% are mystery/thrillers. One of my favorite mysteries ever is The Street Lawyer by John Grisham. I lived in D.C. for one happy year while attending graduate J-school at the University of Maryland at College Park. I spend a ton of time exploring D.C. and not just the touristy places but Adams Morgan and Dupont Circle and downtown clubs etc. Grisham’s writing deftly took me back to all those places. I mention this because author Hank Phillippi Ryan fails to illustrate Boston for the reader.

Her novel could’ve been in any city. At the end she states that she “tweaked” some of Boston’s geography to protect the “innocent.” I don’t approve. There’s no need. Why can’t Mt. Auburn Cemetery be mentioned or certain well-known streets? She’d go from reporter Jane Ryland’s Corey Road apartment [a real Brookline street] to some made up streets. It all rather confused me. The novel would’ve been all that much better if she’d detailed Boston. Phillippi Ryan certainly knows Boston and could have energized it. Instead Boston becomes a dry and rather bland city that no one would even want to visit. What’s the point in even setting it here? Make up the city altogether then. Either fictionalize it all or none of it. It’s confusing to go back and forth.

The Other Woman is a fantastic mystery layered with nuances and new developments. It starts with several unsolved murders by bridges along the Charles River. Reporter Jane Ryland, who used to be a hotshot TV reporter, made a dire mistake in protecting a source who then disappeared. Ryland looked wrong. She lost her prestigious post. Now she works at a newspaper. She’s trying to make that a success and regain respect among her peers. It’s campaign season and her editor assigned her a fluff piece about a Senate hopeful’s wife. As a seasoned investigative reporter Ryland sees more to the story. She focuses in on “the other woman” she sees in some campaign pictures. Throughout the case and the novel, the other woman shifts and Phillippi Ryan’s taut first-rate thriller keeps the reader guessing. My only other concern for future novels, besides the setting, is that Phillippi Ryan focuses on character development. We really didn’t learn that much about Jane or her crush/cop friend Jake. If the reader isn’t invested in Jane Ryland it won’t matter how fascinating the next case.

FTC Disclosure: I received this for review from the publisher.

The Other Woman
by Hank Phillippi Ryan

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book review: FACE TIME

Author: Hank Phillippi Ryan
ISBN: 978-0778327189
Pages: 288
Publisher: Mira (August 1, 2009)
Category: mystery
Review source: author
Rating: 4.5/5

Two glasses of champagne later, I high-five the air as I trudge up the last flight of stairs to my apartment, the third floor of a restored old Mount Vernon Square brownstone flat of Beacon Hill. My live shot was a success, we have our ratings story, and we’re going to get an innocent person out of prison. Not bad for one day.

A young woman sits in a jail cell at Framingham-MCI [the oldest women’s prison in the U.S.—these books aren’t just engaging but very educational] in Massachusetts convicted of killing her husband. Investigative reporter Charlotte “Charlie” McNally gets a tip that the Constitutional Justice Project [CJP] believes Dorinda Keeler Sweeney may be innocent and wants Charlotte to help on the case. This will mean huge ratings for Channel 3 and maybe another Emmy for the hard-working reporter. FACE TIME is the second Charlotte McNally novel and Phillippi Ryan falls into an easy-going groove with this one. The characters are becoming more developed and fascinating. Charlotte now has a boyfriend, prep school teacher Josh, who lives in Vermont [and she has to deal with becoming friendly with his 8-year-old daughter].

The best part is the little details that Phillippi Ryan adds. Charlotte might be a top notch reporter but she’s worried about losing her job to someone younger, she’s dealing with a mother who’s constantly telling her not to eat and to get face work done, and the pressure of constantly pulling in an Emmy-worthy story certainly adds stress to her life. But she has great friends and takes it in stride. The title FACE TIME has a dual meaning: her mom is in the hospital recovering from a face lift and Charlotte struggles each day for that bigger, better story than every other news station and newspaper in Boston gets. She has to be first. What seems like a slam dunk turns out to be a huge challenge for Charlotte and her sidekick producer Franklin. No one wants the truth to come out. There have been cover ups that could cost political positions and if Dorinda were to be set free, someone else has to pay for the crime. But who? During the investigation, Charlotte gets attacked, verbally threatened, and the station comes under fire. But nothing will deter Charlotte from uncovering the truth once she’s started to put some of the pieces together and these pieces really make an absorbing picture. One that will be complicated for the community.

FACE TIME provides the reader with a whodunit supreme with everyone under suspicion from the daughter of the accused to the involvement of a politician to an ex-boyfriend. Charlotte grows on you and makes a compelling and often funny [“my hair looks the same on both sides”] crime solver. She’s independent, strong and fierce. Phillippi Ryan keeps the reader flipping pages and asking questions right up to the end. FACE TIME is a thrill to read.

note of apology to the Emmy-award winning investigative reporter Hank Phillippi Ryan: Sorry I even questioned the accuracy of ANY piece of information you would put into one of your books. Of course you’d be right and I’d be wrong. JOUR 101 reminder for me, look it up and THEN email the author. I was born in Concord, Mass and have 04 social security. But you don’t have to get social security cards immediately and although we lived in tony Westport, Conn., my mother struggled to support us because I had a deadbeat dad who never could keep a job. She told me she couldn’t afford to get SS cards right off and probably mailed away at one time to get all three (for me, and my two brothers). She was born in Boston and has 01. I learned about my past as sad as it was. Full circle for me, I started off with nothing and have nothing now but a great education. How fitting.

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