Hallie Ahern, reporter and recovering gambling addict, starts hanging around a social networking site where she stumbles upon a video clip, a teaser that she thinks will lead her to a front page expose about young girls getting in trouble with their webcams. But when girls start dying, the story goes from provocative to deadly.
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Troubles abound for Hallie Ahern in Brogan's satisfying third mystery starring the intrepid Rhode Island reporter (after 2007's Yesterday's Fatal). A chance viewing of an online “teaser” featuring two teen girls on Rhode Island Buzz, a social networking Web site, prompts Ahern to pitch a story to her newspaper, the Providence Chronicle. She receives initial support from her bosses, who see it as an audience-catching exposť: “Online Dangers: Your teenager is prey.” That promising start is quashed when the investigation puts her in conflict with boyfriend Matt Cavanaugh, an assistant attorney general, and when the paper's editors unexpectedly decide to drop her story in favor of another. The death of one of her young contacts transforms Ahern's quest from news story to crusade, setting her on a course that could cost her job and her life. Brogan's newspaper background serves her nicely in the setup of Ahern's sleuthing, and readers should welcome further entries in the series. (Dec.)

Publishers Weekly

Can an investigative reporter and an assistant district attorney successfully cohabit if they can't confide in one another?

Feisty reporter Hallie Ahern of the Providence Chronicle (Yesterday's Fatal, 2007, etc.) is trolling the Internet in an effort to tamp down her gambling compulsion when she enters a chat room and meets Dizzywon, a flippant young teen soon plastered all over the screen smooching with another young teen. Thinking she's found a pubescent porn ring, Hallie arranges to meet Dizzywon, but the girl never shows. Soon after Hallie tracks down her lip-locking pal Whitney, the second girl dies, but not before indicating that the mysterious Rurik is handing out pricey electronics and cash to kids willing to undress, and do more, on camera. Unfortunately, the trail leads from Providence to Newport, and Hallie and her lover Matt, who works there, have agreed not to step into each other's territory. This time, however, Hallie, on an adrenaline rush she hasn't experienced since her last big poker loss, ignores their agreement and is quickly caught up with drug scum that Matt has been trying to put away for years, as well as an editorial brouhaha that gets her fired. Her need for the edgy exhilaration that crisis brings almost costs her not only her boyfriend but her life and that of Dizzywon.

A neatly packaged tale delineating how online scoops are eroding print newspaper profits and how even if an active addiction is stopped, the emotional processes behind it may well remain.