Crime Beat Girl
Geri L. Dreiling
Geri L. Dreiling (2020)
Reviewed by Jill Rey for Reader Views (12/2020)
Drawing on her personal career as a journalist and lawyer, author Geri L. Dreiling immerses readers in Debbie’s life as a crime beat journalist returning home to help her well-known attorney mother navigate breast cancer treatment.
“Crime Beat Girl” kicks off as reporter, Debbie, returns to her hometown of St. Louis to care for her mother recently diagnosed with breast cancer. After dropping her fiancé and journalistic life in D.C. she doesn’t quite know what to expect of her new career in St. Louis as a writer for a print and online magazine, edited by a high school contact. However, as she arrives in town Debbie happens to be eyewitness to an out of control Audi driver as he plows down and kills one teen pedestrian. From there, her role as a reporter quickly becomes clear as she’s thrust into crime beat reporting as St. Louis’ summer of crime begins to kick off. As the story continues to unravel, Debbie seeks avenues to work her way up the food chain of “sources” in the mayor’s office, police department and community. But, will Debbie be able to stay on the fray as an innocent reporter, or will her eyewitness accounts and efforts to obtain sources put her at risk?
As a Midwesterner myself I deeply related to Debbie’s internal draw back to St. Louis. While Debbie recognized that D.C. would always have the more important stories, it was endearing that Dreiling gave readers an accurate and humbling account of Debbie’s desires and draw to remain in the community she grew up in, reporting on stories important to her and those she has come to love, respect, and befriend. Dreiling also did a fantastic job of weaving her own skills as a journalist and lawyer within the pages of her book. The conversations regarding the constitution and the friendship made between Debbie, a reporter, and Chase, a lawyer from a family of lawyers, not to mention the relationship between Debbie and her own lawyer mother are all the more realistic because of Dreiling’s own background within both.
“Crime Beat Girl” gives readers hints of a classic crime/detective mystery from the unique perspective of a reporter rather than the typical detective. What many would consider a “wrong place, wrong time” occurrence, a reporter finds to be “right place, right time” and seizes the opportunity thus propelling us through the entirety of this read. Crime, drama, and law run rampant throughout this book with a layer of mother-daughter emotion adding a layer of nuance to the page as the story within wraps neatly and rapidly into a bow.