An interesting new thriller
When brilliant TV news producer Virginia Knightly receives a disturbing “MISSING” notice on her desk related to the disappearance of a beautiful young attorney, she can’t seem to shake the image from her head. Despite skepticism from her colleagues, Knightly suspects this ambitious young lawyer may be at the heart of something far more sinister, especially since she was last seen leaving an upscale restaurant after a domestic dispute. Yet, as the only woman of power at her station, Knightly quickly finds herself investigating on her own.
Risking her career, her life, and perhaps even her own sanity, Knightly dives deep into the dark underbelly of Washington, DC business and politics in an investigation that will drag her mercilessly through the inextricable webs of corruption that bind the press, the police, and politics in our nation’s capital.
The Cutaway follows a television producer, as she investigates the disappearance of a beautiful Georgetown lawyer. Forced to navigate competing ambitions, entrenched Washington mentalities and suspicions, and maybe something deadlier, it’s an interesting look at the relationship and working practices of the media in Washington, D.C.
I enjoyed this novel quite a bit. I’m always interested in thrillers connected to the media and/or US politics. As a result, The Cutaway was on my must-read list as soon as I learned of it. What I found was a fast-paced novel, packed with interesting insights into the media industry, and the challenges that confront reporters and producers in D.C. There were shrewd observations about the near-obsession with secrecy, poor relations between departments and entities that are (supposedly) working together. Throw into this mix the police and their agendas, and a killer, and it all makes for a pretty good thriller.
I think the only thing that didn’t quite work was the balance between the personal and the case. Elements of the former often felt included because they are expected of the genre; while the latter sometimes took a back seat. As a result, I thought there were times when I wasn’t sure what was supposed to be most important. I think the case had far more potential, and perhaps could have benefitted from a longer novel — sometimes, it feels like we’re only getting the surface of the story. I would have welcomed more exploration of the various actors in D.C. I’m not suggesting that it had to be Richard North Patterson-levels of detail, but maybe some more on the way everyone works (or doesn’t) together.
At the same time, the personal relationships didn’t feel quite as developed as I would have liked — as a result, I never felt fully invested in Virginia’s personal life (although, the storyline related to her father was interesting). There were a few moments towards the end, therefore, that were maybe robbed of their emotional punch as a result. That being said, the characters were very well-drawn — the main protagonists, as well as side-characters all felt real, and Kovac avoided many genre clichés.
The Cutaway certainly shows a lot of promise, and I’m definitely looking forward to reading Kovac’s next novel. (A sequel to this would be great.) If you’re a fan of thrillers and crime fiction, or novels with a political element, I think you’ll find plenty to like here.