Erica Sparks is on top of her game. Her regular television show is working like a well oiled machine, and she has her sights set on something more. Something bigger. Something more investigative than the Erica Sparks Effect is.
But with her bold vision comes the trouble. Her marriage to Greg is suddenly on shaky ground. Her daughter is acting more and more out of character. And the separation movement that is gaining traction in North Dakota seems to be followed with mysterious deaths. Even some crossing the border into Canada.
Can Erica help get to the bottom of these deaths? Will she be able to balance a career with marriage? Can she escape the cycle of substance abuse that her daughter might be falling into? Will this radical movement trigger a new Civil War in the United States?
The Separatists is the third book in the ongoing series of Newsmakers novel written by Lis Wiehl. And things are only started for the lead character, Erica Sparks.
I really enjoyed Lis Wiehl’s first Newsmakers novel. It was a window into a world that I knew nothing about, but quickly became invested and interested in. Investigative journalism is a very dangerous business, and not only in the realm of fiction. Erica Sparks, the protagonist, has more than her fair share of close calls and terrifying trails in The Separatists. The action, the obvious parallels to our currently political climate makes this a very compelling read. Wiehl knows what she is doing as a novelist. That being said, I wish that she would have taken a cue from her fictional counterpart and done a little more research.
An important secondary character lives close to the threatening separatists, but not in the US. He lives in Canada. But the Canada he lives in is such a departure from reality that it is amusing. Especially since I live in Canada, and have visited the city this character calls home many times. I can forgive calling Canadian highways, “route #”, though we don’t use that word. I can overlook the idea that Winnipeg has skyscrapers, when that is far from the truth. Authors have literary license. This is Wiehl’s universe. Things can be a little different. However, when that literary license cuts out the historic and current federal law enforcement agency of Canada as a plot device, I have a problem. How do you cut out the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the RCMP?
As a Canadian, that bothered me. They are a part of our history, our national identity. How do you cut them out as a plot device? I would compare it to a Canadian writing about New York, and saying Saks Fifth Avenue was on Lexington. You can stray away from reality a bit when working on fiction, but stray too far and you will lose your audience. This may not bother an American that doesn’t know, but it did bother me.
This doesn’t take away from the actions and excitement that Wiehl has thrown Erica Sparks into. The pacing of the chapters adds to the thrill of the nationwide events. The realistic monologues leave you caring about Erica and comparing her reality to your own. We may not be television journalist but we all have the same bleeding heart that Erica does.
The few things that I knit picked over are small and minor. They do not distract or destroy the story that Lis Wiehl is telling. What Wiehl has created in a compelling and interesting story is a world that frighteningly mirrors our own. Fans of the first two Newsmakers books will love this third addition to the series, and will be eager for what happens next to Erica Sparks.
I give The Separatists by Lis Wiehl a 5 out of 5-star rating.