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ANONYMOUS SOURCES by Mary Louise Kelly: Book Review

Alexandra James, red-haired Cambridge journalist, is always working on a story.  That’s how she keeps her life in order, because if she has too much free time, the memories come barreling back.

Alexandra is employed by the New England Chronicle, and her beat is education.  In a city with Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, to say nothing of other universities across the river (Boston University, Boston College, Simmons, and others too numerous to count), there’s always something going on.  But the new assignment she’s given by the paper’s editor, Hyde Rawlins, is the most intriguing and dangerous one she’s ever covered.

Waiting for a friend at a Cambridge bar, Alex gets a text sent to all Chronicle reporters that a body has been found outside the Eliot House residence at Harvard and asking for a reporter to get there ASAP.  Since Alex is practically around the corner, she texts the editor that she’ll go.

Never a shrinking violet, Alex manages to get past the police lines and into Eliot House but isn’t able to get much information.  Later the university puts out a statement that an alumnus has fallen to his death from one of the House windows; the body is that of Thomas Carlyle, son of the legal adviser to the president of the United States.

Because Thom had just returned from a year at Cambridge University in England and Alex had also been a student there, she convinces Hyde to send her to England to follow the story, to find out why this bright and well-liked young man fell to his death only hours after he returned from his graduate year abroad.  Finding the answers to this question proves much harder and more dangerous than Alex had supposed.

At Cambridge, Alex meets Petronella Black, Thom’s former girlfriend.  She’s a “right piece of work,” according to the “bedder,” or chambermaid, at the college.  When Alex knocks on Petronella’s door there’s a man in her room, Lucien Sly, and it’s very obvious that the two had been in bed together.  It’s only three days after Thom’s death, Alex thinks.  Not much heartbreak here.

The plot line takes the reader from Cambridge, Massachusetts to Cambridge, England, with a stop in Pakistan along the way.  The characters include the wealthy and politically connected Carlyle family, the glamorous and spoiled Petronella Black, the attractive and aristocratic Lucian Sly, Alex’s demanding yet compassionate editor Hyde Rawlins, and the mysterious Pakistani scientist Nadeem Siddiqui.  Each has a distinctive voice and an important presence in the novel.

Alex James is a very appealing heroine.  She’s tough, definitely not shy, and extremely confident in the way she goes about getting a story.  But deep inside her there’s a secret that she’s hidden from nearly everyone.  And, as every mystery reader knows, secrets have a way of not staying hidden.  They often emerge at the most inauspicious times.

Mary Louise Kelly is a broadcast journalist and has the background to make Alex a true-to-life protagonist.  The plot is totally believable, as are the characters.  Anonymous Sources is the first book in what I hope will be a long-running series.

You can read more about Mary Louise Kelly at this web site.

Check out the complete Marilyn’s Reads blog at her web site.











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