Mary Jane Clark, Author . St. Martin's $24.95 (339p) ISBN 978-0-312-28877-8

CBS veteran Clark (Nobody Knows) brings a network news producer's sensibility to the story of a newsroom in the throes of anthrax-induced pandemonium. In quick chapters that jump-cut among numerous points of view, Clark narrates a nerve-racking week in the life of KEY News producer Annabelle Murphy. When Annabelle's medical correspondent, Dr. John Lee, holds up what he says is a vial of weapons-grade anthrax on morning TV, panic ensues: executives call management meetings, security agents peer into spy cameras, the FBI snoops around and doctors dispense Cipro. Lee's anthrax proves to be table sugar—but then Annabelle's colleague Jerome Henning, who's quietly been writing a nasty tell-all, lands in the hospital and quickly succumbs to the disease. A food-service worker is murdered next, and another person is found dead. Annabelle frets about Jerome's manuscript and tries to figure out what's going on, all the while unwittingly carrying anthrax spores in her coat pocket. Who needs terrorists when there are so many office villains around? There's the aging, control-freak male bigwig, the driven female executive, the insider-trading business reporter and the cocaine-sniffing theater reviewer, to name a few. Clark's spare prose depends on brisk dialogue and rapid-fire action sequences, and her stereotypical characters are pastiches of a few simple virtues, flaws and guilty secrets. Still, the yarn entertains with a little network gossip and a short lesson in bio-terror, all seen through the eyes of a network producer who starts out fearing for her job and ends up fearing for her life. Agent, Laura Dail. (Aug.)

Reviewed on: 07/28/2003
Release date: 08/01/2003
Genre: Fiction
Mass Market Paperbound - 352 pages - 978-0-312-98869-2
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