I've never read mysteries by either Mary Kay Andrews or Kathy Hogan Trochek. Mary Kay Andrews is a pseudonym for Trochek. Her Goodreads profile says that she established the pen name for books that would be more Southern oriented. Trochek lives in Atlanta, Georgia.
I was approached by publicist Meg Walker with a review request for Hello, Summer, the most recent Mary Kay Andrews novel. The female journalist protagonist was what drew my interest. I appreciated that Trochek had been a journalist herself before beginning her career as a novelist. This meant that I could expect an authentic portrayal of the protagonist. The author gave her protagonist her own journalistic background. They both had worked at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. I think that these shared circumstances increases the reader's confidence in the book's realism.
On this blog, I recently reviewed a book dealing with the real historical journalist, Nellie Bly here but I also reviewed The Suffragette Scandal, a romance by Courtney Milan in which the heroine was a fictional historical journalist here.
Journalists play an important role in society. So I like to highlight them. That's why I decided to accept the review request. I received two print copies from the exceedingly generous publisher, St. Martin's Press. My review is below.
From a mystery perspective, readers will need to be patient. There is a great deal of development of the characters and their relationships before the case gets going. The mystery does get solved though the resolution isn't conventional.
Although there is a romance element in this novel, it doesn't dominate the plot. I read a review on Goodreads that complained that there was too little romance and too much politics. I personally liked the balance of all the various aspects in Hello, Summer within the narrative.
Readers of this blog will want to know that there were two wonderful woman characters in this novel in addition to protagonist Conley Hawkins.
My personal favorite was her grandmother's housekeeper, Winnie. Her strength in the face of environmental injustice impressed me tremendously. I would have loved a novel in which Winnie was the protagonist in which we got to see her entire history as she experienced it. I suppose it would have been an environmental thriller.
Conley's eccentric grandmother was incredibly supportive of Conley's insistence on investigating stories regardless of who they offended. She had inherited the ownership of a local newspaper, and it was she who upheld its journalistic standards.
Conley brought valuable experience to her family's newspaper, The Silver Bay Beacon, from her work at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. She had reason to believe that the risks she was taking could make The Silver Bay Beacon more successful despite her sister's skepticism.
I'm hoping that there will be another novel taking place in Silver Bay in which we get to see whether Conley's strategy paid off in the long run. Do local print newspapers have a future? I'd like to think that they do.