Book Review: ‘The Solomon Scandals’

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I wanted to read David Rothman’s novelĀ The Solomon Scandals (aff link) for a few reasons. First , it seemed like a good book. I had read good things about the novel on various websites and I wanted to read it for myself. I also greatly admire David, he’s one of the bloggers over at Teleread who keeps us informed about the world of ebooks. And finally, the novel is available in many different formats, including print, and just about every ebook format you can think of – so I was happily able to download this book onto my Sony PRS-500.

The Solomon Scandals is a good mix of mystery, thriller with a dash of literary fiction. I found it refreshing not to read about your cliched characters of genre fiction, rather, the novel centers on a newspaper reporter, editors, a gossip columnist, government bureaucrats, a real estate tycoon and even the President of the United States. Add in a dash of humor and you have yourself a really great read.

Jonathan Stone, the small-time reporter for a Washington DC newspaper, the Washington Telegram, decides to take on a large scandal that is literally built in the nation’s capital city. Stone’s nemesis is a man named Seymour Solomon, who lands himself lucrative construction contracts with the government, then cuts corners and takes the cheapest route to getting a building erected (pocketing the difference).

To make matters even more interesting, Stone’s editor at the Telegram, a man almost as nefarious as Solomon himself, is 100% against his proposed story that will expose a scandal that goes straight to the President of the United States. And it doesn’t help that Solomon is a major advertiser in Stone’s newspaper. It takes a courageous act of insubordination during a late-night writing session and a favor from a friend in the layout department to get the story printed.

As the novel progresses, the Jonathan Stone comes face-to-face with one tragedy after another. The most serious, of course, being the collapse of the IRS building that Solomon had built. He also must deal with witnessing the very public suicide of a Washington socialite, and the grizzly death of his own editor at the paper.

I found it hard to pin down The Solomon Scandals. At times, Scandals reminded me of a good Robert B. Parker mystery novel. At other times, such as during the party when socialite celebrity gossip columnist Wendy meets her ultimate demise, the book reminded me of the elegant prose of F. Scott Fitzgerald in Tender is the Night. This mixture kept the reading interesting, exciting, stimulating, and I didn’t feel like my intelligence was being insulted, unlike many other popular fiction novels.

The novel is serious in its overall message that newspapers can only be independent if they are free from the corruption they should be reporting about. But when that corruption sinks into a newspaper, the results can be deadly. This novel gives the reader a much-needed appreciation for the important roll the press plays in keeping our government accountable.

Will I recommend this novel? Yes, in a heartbeat! No matter what format you decide to read The Solomon Scandals in, I’m sure you will enjoy it as much as I did.

And if you have already read this book, leave a comment below with your own thoughts!

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