A Simple Favour Book Review

The Kindle edition on my iPad.

This was so underwhelming and it makes me so mad.

Oh, and there are some spoilers.

I first heard of the book around the time the movie came out. I never got to see the movie in theatres, but I love Anna Kendrick, Blake Lively, and Henry Golding—a dream cast come true!

I saw the book in the book store and without much thought, placed a hold on an ebook version through the library and promptly forgot all about it.

If it wasn’t automatically checked out to me, I’d probably never read it.

Turns out, I could have lived without reading it.

The book’s description compared it to The Girl on the Train and Gone Girl and after reading the book, I have to say that’s pretty inaccurate. I mean, it’s technically a thriller, but it didn’t really feel like one. I was tempted to just return it, but it was only 300 pages long and a pretty quick read.

For me, the most frustrating part about the book was how aggressively ‘meh’ it was. The story was really compelling—it’s what kept me hooked throughout all 300 pages—but the writing and story structure basically stripped away any potential.

When I started the book, I loved how the author used Stephanie’s blog as a narrative device—it was a cool way to frame the story and show Stephanie’s public face while still revealing important plot information. If the author continued using this device for the part one, I think it would have kept the tension high and maintain interest in the story.

Instead, any intrigue with Stephanie’s character was gone in the first third of the book, and I didn’t end up caring about her for the rest of the book—which is a real bummer when you’re supposed to feel some sympathy for her later on.

Which brings me to my next point—the characters. I ended up not caring about or connecting to any of the three main characters. All of their motivations were either nonsensical or ridiculous. With Gone Girl, the characters may not have been good people, but I could understand them and sympathize with them to some extent—especially with Nick prior to the big twist.

With Sean, Emily, and Stephanie, I disliked them for being bad and/or dumb people from the beginning and the more I read, the more I disliked them. I mean, the person you’re supposed to feel the most sympathy for had a years-long affair with her brother (technically half-brother, but she refers to him as her brother in several instances) and conceived a child with him. 

She may not have deserved what happened to her, but it’s hard to feel good feelings about someone whose true love was her brother.

Even though the story had so much potential, actually reading the book was pretty painful. It wasn’t a bad book, but it definitely didn’t live up to its potential.

That being said, I’d be interested in seeing the movie version—maybe the story would be better served in a retelling. It could be the first book-to-movie adaptation I actually prefer over the original book.

The Reporter Who Knew Too Much Book Review

The hardcover edition.

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Part of me is a little nervous about writing this review, but considering how author Mark Shaw is still alive, I think I’m okay with this post.

I want to preface this by saying that I’m not a conspiracy theorist—I don’t wear or own a tin foil hat, and I don’t plan on purchasing one anytime soon. But I’ve always been fascinated with the life—and mysterious death—of Dorothy Kilgallen.

About three years ago, I fell in love with What’s My Line?, a panel game show that ran from 1950-67. It was fun, respectful, classy, and surprisingly progressive for the age. It was also a ratings star and hugely popular—I mean, it ran for 17 years.

Through the show, I came to know and appreciate Dorothy Kilgallen’s work. She was a prominent reporter and Broadway columnist whose work was syndicated in newspapers across the country. Apart from her work as a columnist, reporter, and television personality, she hosted a popular radio show with her husband called Breakfast with Dorothy and Dick. In fact, fans would send mail to “Dick and Dorothy, New York City, NY” and they would get the letters.

With her strong media presence, she was like the Oprah of her time—which makes it all the more shocking that she’s been forgotten in history.

I don’t want to make this post too terribly long, so I won’t go into all the details surrounding her death. But in a nutshell, she was found dead in a bedroom she never slept in and wearing her makeup, hairpiece, and false eyelashes—which she never wore to bed. She was also on the verge of completing her investigation into the JFK assassination, something she’d been working on for nearly 18 months.

Now, Dorothy is not a crazy person—she had a sharp mind and strong investigative reporting skills. She was praised and recognized for her work as a journalist, and she was widely respected. Dorothy specialized in crime reporting, and she was one of the only reporters who criticized the original Sam Sheppard verdict. He was eventually acquitted in a second trial.

My point is this: if she said there were suspicious things about the JFK assassination and the events following, there had to be something there.

I’d done some low-key investigating on my own when I was in my third year of journalism school—I even managed to track down her FBI file through the Internet Archive. I didn’t go too much further with it—life and school got pretty crazy for me. But I never stopped thinking about Dorothy and the case.

Enter The Reporter Who Knew Too Much.

I saw Mark Shaw make a post about the book in a Facebook group dedicated to What’s My Line? I was excited—virtually nobody had cared about Dorothy outside of a biography written about her in the 70’s.

I got the book pretty much immediately after it came out, but I just finished it in December 2018.

It’s a well-researched, thoroughly investigated book, but the writing is very rough and hard to read. It’s not necessarily bad, but it would have benefitted from a ghost writer polishing it up. I ended up finishing it by listening to the audiobook, narrated by Gabra Zackman. The narrator does an amazing job reading the book, and Zackman moves between the different characters’ “voices” easily throughout the chapters.

In the book, Shaw presents a very plausible explanation for Dorothy’s death: Dorothy had discovered the assassination was a mob operation, and the mob essentially murdered her and used the NYC medical examiner’s office to cover it up.

Reading that last paragraph over, it does sound crazy. However, there is a lot of credible evidence that leads to that conclusion. You could say there were just a lot of coincidences, but at a certain point, when the coincidences keep adding up, you have to admit there has to be more there.

One of the reasons I wanted to spend a lot of time with the book is because I wanted to take my time reviewing the evidence, some of which Shaw has put up on his website. In my opinion, as someone who’s also looked into Dorothy’s life and death, the evidence and research are credible and worthy of more investigation.

That being said, it’s likely that this book (and possibly the sequel, which I plan to read soon) is as far as it’ll go. Dorothy died in 1965—well over five decades ago. While I think it’s important to bring this evidence to light, I don’t think the DA’s office or the Department of Justice will be willing to open new investigations. Both of these departments are overworked as it is, and they have bigger fish to fry.

There’s so much more I could say about this book and the evidence (mainly about Ron Pataky’s creepy-ass poetry), but here’s what I’ll say in conclusion. I think this book is a well-researched love letter to Dorothy Kilgallen. While it could have used some better writing, it was a very satisfying read purely for the affection for Dorothy and the new research and evidence surrounding her death.

All in all, I think Dorothy would be proud of The Reporter Who Knew Too Much.