The depiction of life at The Post, her fictional broadsheet, is superbly entertaining (“The reporters were scruffy, grumpy; Dorian Gray paintings of their own byline photographs”) and grounds the book in a reality that helps us to swallow the more implausible parts of the plot (although if Watt has actually cracked a story by playing a grandmaster-level game of chess, I beg her pardon).
A romantic sub-plot feels somewhat tacked on, but otherwise the novel is pacy and genuinely thrilling. Watt has lived her story and that is the main draw, but she is also a proper writer with a fine turn of phrase. This promises to be an outstanding series.
Casey, the narrator of To the Lions... a first novel by the former Sunday Times reporter Holly Watt, is unsurprisingly an investigative journalist. By schmoozing bankers and hedgies, she learns that a group of them go on safaris where people are the prey. After finding out that the next killing will take place in an oasis in the Sahara, she heads out there with a colleague to expose the murderous sport. Threats to their lives duly ensue and these scenes are ably handled; but at its heart this is a first-rate Fleet Street novel rather than a thriller, equally good on the spy-like ploys used by undercover hacks as it is on tensions and teamwork in the newsroom.