by Jan Brogan
St. Martin’s Minotaur
What is a newspaper reporter’s responsibility? Should it be to the newspaper? To the people in the story who might be victims of a crime? Or should it be to the significant people in your life with who you need to keep some information confidential for their sake? What if your answer to one of these causes conflicts for the other two? What if there is no correct answer and any answer you have can and will cause you problems? This is Hallie Ahearn’s situation. Someone sent her a video clip which is called a teaser featuring under-aged girls in their swimming suits talking and posing for a web camera. Hallie realizes this is a great possibility for a story for the paper. Hallie pretends she is fourteen and attempts to correspond with the girls. They have agreed to meet at a near-by electronics store in the web cam section. When she arrives at the store, no young girls are there but a middle-aged man with a bad-dye job on his hair seems to be waiting instead. She then tries again to make contact with the girls and finds herself involved in a world unknown to her. Apparently adult men are buying these girls web cameras and other things in exchange for the girls’ performance on the web cams. When she visits one of the girls, she is shown the expensive designer shoes that were bought for the girl. When this particular girl is discovered dead by an overdose, Hallie knows this story is dangerous and immediately feels guilty and partly responsible. Another element mentioned in the story is how many families use the web-cam as a babysitting tool, especially with teens. This girl is to call her mother at work when she arrives home from school each day. The mom can see the girl and they can quickly discuss the happenings of the day without the parent being at home. Unfortunately, Hallie is told by the girl to stand in the corner so that she is not seen on the camera. It does make you wonder how many times the girl has had people over to her house without her mother’s knowledge. The newspaper wants her to continue the story. Hallie is torn between the story and the responsible thing to help the other girl. Since Hallie’s boyfriend is the assistant attorney general, she is also hesitant to let him know too much since his involvement could ruin the story for her. Added to this, the surviving girl seems to be from another country and she guesses that she might even be in this country illegally. The internal conflicts with Hallie are what make TEASER an excellent and extremely fast novel to read. This is one of those realistic situations where each action brings a negative result and no action also ends the same way. Sometimes in life there are no easy answers and doing the right things, can cause many troubles. I thoroughly enjoyed reading TEASER. My only complaint is that the book ended. This is one of those “cozy” books that you just want to keep going.