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News From the Edge: The Monster of Minnesota
Mark Sumner
Ace Books, 198 pages

Mark Sumner
Mark Sumner is the author of two fantasy novels of the Wild West, Devil's Tower and Devil's Engine, both from Del Rey. He describes himself as a fanatic game player, and he continues to write regular columns for gaming magazines. He lives in the hills south of St. Louis with his wife and son.

Mark Sumner Home Page
List of Published Work
"A Wing of Wyverns," by Mark Sumner
Del Rey's Devil's Tower page

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Steven H Silver

When my wife first saw this book sitting in my to-be-read pile, she expressed surprise, pointing out that it wasn't the sort of book I usually read. If you look through the index of books I've reviewed, you'll notice that it does seem to be rather lighter than my usual run of books. Nevertheless, sometimes a little light reading is good for the soul, especially when you know it's light before you embark on the journey.

The novel opens with "Savvy Skye," girl reporter, fielding calls at the Global Query, a successful supermarket tabloid. Savvy hopes this job is only a temporary gig until she can hook up with a more reputable paper, spending her free time helping Jimmy Knoles, a former Washington Post field reporter with his local weekly paper. When Gloria from Lake Jellico, Minnesota calls to report that her brother had been killed by a lake monster, Savvy is, naturally skeptical. Something in Gloria's tale convinces Savvy there may be something to it and she heads north to discover what's happening in Lake Jellico.

For all of Savvy's claims to reporter cynicism, she is all too ready to believe everything she is told. After hearing Gloria's story, she is convinced that Clive Busfield is the guilty party. After speaking to Busfield, she changes her mind and decides ChemMat is responsible. Each interview she conducts leaves her convinced that the newest suspect must be the culprit.

Naturally, Savvy eventually will get to the bottom of the story, determining whether "Big Jelly" really exists or is simply a hoax perpetrated to cover up murder. Although the characters are relatively flat, the pace of the story is solid and makes for an entertaining, if diverting read. When you read a book with a title like News from the Edge: The Monster of Minnesota, you don't expect Dostoevsky or even Twain. Sumner provides a nice innocuous novel which is perfect for an afternoon's entertainment.

News from the Edge: The Monster of Minnesota seems to be the result of Mark Sumner watching a few too many "Scooby Doo" reruns: a monster terrorizing a fishing village, the evil corporation which may (or may not) be polluting the lake, the evil fishing guide, they all appear in this novel. At the denouement, the villain even explains the entire plot. Sumner has more books about "Savvy Skye" in the works. With luck, he'll keep the future books as fresh as this one.

Copyright © 1997 by Steven H Silver

Steven H Silver is one of the founders and judges for the Sidewise Award for Alternate History. He sits on concoms for Windycon, Chicon 2000 and Clavius in 2001 and is co-chair of Picnicon 1998. Steven will be serving as the Programming Chairman for Chicon 2000. In addition to maintaining several bibliographies and the Harry Turtledove website, Steven is trying to get his short stories published and has recently finished his first novel. He lives at home with his wife and 3200 books. He is available for convention panels.

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