Publisher Thurman Boucher paid an obscene sum for the Cambridge Daily Banner, a fly-weight local paper. When the paper's former owner turns up dead, Tom Bethany does some freestyle investigative reporting, attempting to bring Boucher to his knees. But the publisher is ready to deliver some punishing holds of his own.
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Doolittle is a former Washington Post editor and columnist, U.S. Embassy spokesman in Loas, war correspondent in Southeast Asia, chief of public affairs for the Federal Aviation Administration, speechwriter for President Carter, and Harvard faculty member.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
An elderly lady friend has asked Tom Bethany to find a way to restore the Cambridge Daily Banner to its former owner, who sold it for 'an obscene amount of money' to millionaire publisher Thurman Boucher. As the excerpt begins, Bethany has been familiarizing himself with the paper, which is known as the Bummer:
The sauna ought to be a good place to read, but it isn't. After ten minutes or so, for some reason, mental meltdown happens to the point where I can't concentrate enough to follow Mother Goose, or even the Boston Herald.
But ten minutes had been plenty of time to absorb the Cambridge Daily Banner. It was every bit as flyweight as I remembered, full of semiliterate syndicated gruel and local mush that was even less literate. Its guiding editorial principle seemed to be to load as many local names as possible into as many short stories as they could fit between the ads. There was no good reason that I could see to read the Banner, but then there's no good reason to bite your nails and look how many people do it anyway. Like most papers in America, the Banner was just an irritating habit.
Not being a native of Cambridge, it was a habit I never picked up. I had tried to read the paper a few times back in the early eighties, when I was new to the area. It wasn't much good then, and I couldn't see that it had gotten either better or worse since. I set the paper aside on the bench of the sauna. The pages were lumpy where my sweat had dripped and dried.
Even though the season was over, half a dozen other wrestlers were in the Malkin Athletic Center sauna with me, kids on the Harvard team. We had been horsing around for an hour or so, staying in shape. I helped the coaching staff in season and out, in return for gym privileges and the chance to keep my own skills alive. I had been way above the Harvard level of wrestling in my day, but that was back in the late seventies. I could still keep ahead of even the best Harvard kids, but now I had to rely on skill and experience to do it, instead of speed and strength.
"The hell you reading the Bummer for?" Tony Mastrangelo asked. "You out of toilet paper?"
Tony was a 160-pound sophomore who would be a pretty fair wrestler in a couple of years if he worked at it. He had the Boston area accent, but my ear wasn't good enough to make distinctions beyond that.
"How do you know to call it the Bummer?" I asked. "You from Cambridge?"
"Just across the line in Somerville. We take the Bummer, though."
"You ever read it?"
"Ann Landers. High school sports. That's about it."
"What do you think about this new guy that took it over?"
"Did some new guy take it over?"
"Last year. Where were you?"
"Hey, it wasn't in Ann Landers, okay?"
Tony Mastrangelo didn't sound any more enthusiastic about the Banner than I was, even though he was a local boy. I wondered what it was about the paper that made it worth an obscene amount of money to Thurman Boucher or anyone else.
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Book Description Pocket Books, 1995. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # M0671799800
Book Description Pocket Books, 1995. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # DADAX0671799800
Book Description Atria, 1995. hardcover. Book Condition: new. First edition, first printing, mint, new/unread in a flawless dust jacket. 1995 NY: Atria. Bookseller Inventory # DOOKILL11
Book Description Pocket Books, 1995. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Never used!. Bookseller Inventory # P110671799800
Book Description Pocket Books. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. 0671799800 New Condition. Bookseller Inventory # NEW7.1976912