Cityside

William Heffernan, Author William Morrow & Company $24 (320p) ISBN 978-0-688-16406-5
Heffernan (The Dinosaur Club) whips up a superior potboiler in this tale of corrupt newspapering, brutal cops and greedy doctors. It is New York, 1975, and in the post-Watergate era of journalistic hubris, newspapers are out to nail bigshots any way they can. But not Billy Burke, a conscientious journalist at the New York Globe, who senses that the media is becoming indecently self-righteous. Anyway, he's got other things to worry about, namely, his ruthless editor, Lenny Twist, and his daughter, Annie. Annie is autistic, and when she was institutionalized, five years ago, Burke broke up with his wife, Julia. He barely survived the emotional turmoil, and he still drinks more than he should. Now Lenny slaps him with a double assignment. It seems a five-year-old Puerto Rican named Roberto Avalon can't get a lifesaving heart operation because Dr. James Bradford, the surgeon who could perform it, wants $90,000 up front. Burke's job is to make Roberto into a citywide sob story. In addition, he's supposed to get the goods on Burke's place of work, the University Hospital, which is allegedly defrauding the city. Burke soon gets emotionally involved with Roberto and Maria, his divorced mother. He realizes that the only thing he shares with Whitney, his girlfriend in the magazine section, is great, athletic sex. But will he end up with Maria? Or will he make a new start with Julia? Heffernan takes the reader behind the scenes of tabloid journalism, describing in fascinating detail the attendant perks, backscratching and hypocrisy. Writing with verve, enthusiasm and a flair for unconventional detail, Heffernan wrings a lot of entertainment out of his formulaic tale. (July)
Reviewed on: 06/28/1999
Release date: 07/01/1999
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