There’s never been a shortage of books set in the often chaotic world of newspapers. Many of them have been entertaining but few of them have been believable, whether because of issues of literary license or the author’s lack of familiarity with the business.
A notable exception is “Black & White and Dead All Over” by John Darnton, who worked for 40 years for The New York Times. Darnton’s intimate knowledge of newsrooms and all of their characters and other idiosyncrasies makes for a refreshing read. He even brings in the current crisis in the newspaper business, with management’s efforts to build revenue and cut costs one of the story’s threads.
But even if you’re not in the business, “Black & White” has much to offer. This is murder mystery at its best, with a pace that keeps the pages turning. And while there is a fair amount of gore — in the opening pages an editor meets his death in the middle of the newsroom, with an old-fashioned editor’s spike driven into his chest in a macabre coup de grace — there’s also a great deal of humor, including a few instances of the LOL variety.
It’s the sort of gallows humor journalists appreciate, but “Black & White” is fine writing and good old-fashioned storytelling that should appeal to all.