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Book Review: A Dangerous Fiction, by Barbara Rogan

Jo Donovan is a widow who’s inherited a literary agency from her late husband, an infamous philanderer and celebrated author. On the surface, she’s flawless: intelligent, a great agent, stoic and strong but tender and emotional. She’s built a safe life idealizing her husband’s memory, but that life is threatened by blow after blow to her reputation, personal life, employees, and clients. When her best friend is murdered, she begins to seriously doubt her memories and must confront her past.

A mystery set in the world of New York literary agents and publishers–with spot-on descriptions of the writer’s plight. A few quotes:

“Writers. Every one I’d ever met was bipolar, the poles being arrogance and insecurity.”

What writer hasn’t felt that way? Ack.

“One has to make allowances for writers, especially the unpublished ones. Rejection gets to everyone after a while, and those poor bastards swim in a sea of it.”

Why, yes, it does get to us, but we don’t really swim in the sea–we tread water at best. In choppy waters.

Although I’ve worked in nonfiction publishing, the world of fiction publishing is very different. If you’re in the midst of the submission process, you’ll find this an intriguing story. Be forewarned: It echoed my feelings so well that it was depressing. The characters are interesting, the pace steady, and the plot layered. The gradual realization that Jo has been lying to herself is fascinating. It’s a bit more than a cozy mystery, but it reads like one.

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