SPARKLE HAYTER – What’s a Girl Gotta Do. Robin Hudson #1. Soho Press, hardcover, 1994. Penguin, paperback, 1995.

   Hayter is a TV newswoman who has worked for CNN and WABC, and this is her first novel. She’s also been a standup comic. Would you believe I actually bought this, on a whim?

   Robin Hudson is a third-string reporter — fallen from better times — for ANN, a news network obviously modeled on CNN. In the process of being divorced from an unfaithful husband, she is not in the mood for a package of material from someone who has fond out a lot about her she isn’t particularly proud of.

   She’s supposed to meet the man at a hotel where the network is having a party, but he doesn’t answer his door. The next day he’s found dead in the hotel room, and it turns out he was trying to blackmail several of the network’s employees. But why, and who was he working for?

   Hayter does have a way with words — “dumber than a sack of hammers” and “a few bees short of a hive” were just a couple of phrases that caught my eye early on. I liked Robin Hudson, and I liked the quick, sure hand Hayter showed with the other characterizations. She writes a bit better than she plots, as is nearly always the case these days with first novelists. This one wasn’t egregious, though, and only broke down a little toward the end.

   I thought is was a strong contender for the First Novel Edgar most of the way through, and I’m not sure I still don’t. I liked Hayter’s maiden voyage a lot.

— Reprinted from Ah Sweet Mysteries #13, June 1994.

      The Robin Hudson series —

1. What’s A Girl Gotta Do? (1994)
2. Nice Girls Finish Last (1996)

3. Revenge of the Cootie Girls (1997)
4. The Last Manly Man (1998)

5. The Chelsea Girl Murders (2000)