Usually, when a local reporter keeps me up all night, I'm worrying about a story I might have missed or whether I understood the topic well enough to do it justice.
But Rod Decker, newspaperman-turned-KUTV reporter, had me turning pages late into the night with his inaugural novel, "An Environment for Murder."Set in Salt Lake City, with lots of visits to the old, familiar places, Decker's mystery centers on newspaperman Alma Cannon, a hard-drinking, hard-living reporter who relies on his wiles to assure his place in the newsroom.
Utah's fictional governor has just announced plans to make sure the California Commonwealth Power Project becomes a reality in Utah. But not everyone's enamored with the idea. Environmentalists say the coal mining needed to operate the plan will terrorize nature. On the other hand, the project receives enthusiastic support from the people in a nearby small town who see the power project as the key to survival - and a great tool to prevent all the young people from moving away.
It's a fun book - if murder can be thus described. It is particularly enjoyable if the reader is a reporter who has lived with and recognizes the insider view of a daily newspaper's operation.
The book is an auspicious debut. It's not without faults - we learn much more about Cannon's vices than we do about who he is and what candles burn most brightly in his life. The reader never really gets involved with the people, who seem at times to represent types, from the public relations man to the mayor of the small town.
But the careful plotting, the insights into local culture and the easygoing writing style overcome any flaws. It's a thoroughly enjoyable - and even engrossing - book that will please mystery lovers immensely.