Brogan, Jan 1958(?)–
Brogan, Jan 1958(?)–
PERSONAL: Born c. 1958, in Clifton, NJ; married Bill Santo; children: Lannie, Spike. Education: Boston University, B.A.
CAREER: News Tribune, Waltham, MA, former staff member; Worcester Telegram and Gazette, Worcester, MA, former staff writer; Providence Journal-Bulletin, Providence, RI, former staff writer; Boston Globe, Boston, MA, currently correspondent. Has also taught mystery writing at Cape Cod Writer's Center, Boston Learning Society, Brown University Learning Community, and Providence, RI Learning Connection.
AWARDS, HONORS: Gerald Loeb award for distinguished financial writing; Editors' Choice award, Drood Review of Mystery, 2001, for Final Copy.
Final Copy (mystery novel), Larcom Press (Prides Crossing, MA), 2001.
A Confidential Source (mystery novel), Mysterious Press (New York, NY), 2005.
Contributor to periodicals, including Ladies' Home Journal, Forbes, Boston, and Improper Bostonian.
SIDELIGHTS: Jan Brogan is a journalist with a long and distinguished career with New England newspapers. Similarly, the protagonist of her debut mystery novel is a journalist in Boston, but there the parallels end. Instead, as Pamela H. Sacks explained in the Worcester, Massachusetts, Telegram & Gazette, protagonist Addy McNeil is "a reporter with a foundering career, a drug habit and some questionable journalistic values." In Final Copy former star investigative reporter McNeil is struggling with a sinking career and an addiction to sleeping pills. At the same time, Boston is struggling with a slow down in the biotech industry and the resulting recession. When she is assigned to investigate the murder of a prominent venture capitalist, McNeil finds herself delving into the hidden intrigues of the region's biotech industry and uncovering emotional wounds from her own past, particularly her continued attraction to an ex-boyfriend, another venture capitalist, who happens to be the prime suspect in the case.
Brogan introduces a different heroine, Hallie Ahern, in A Confidential Source, but there are some similarities to her first protagonist. Like McNeil, Ahern is trying to resuscitate her journalistic career, but she has fallen considerably farther than McNeil. After an affair with a source who ultimately uses her, Ahern leaves her high-profile position at a prestigious Boston newspaper and finds herself working at the small bureau of Rhode Island's largest daily newspaper. Lacking confidence in her own judgment, she is reluctant to take on any major stories, but then she witnesses the shooting death of a local deli owner. Before long, her reporters' instincts propel her to investigate the victim's background, and she soon discovers his gambling debts and mob connections. From there, she finds herself reporting on the issues of gambling addiction. At the same time, Rhode Island prepares for a referendum legalizing casinos in Providence, a referendum strongly supported by the corrupt mayor and just as strongly opposed by a local talk-show host who begins to help Ahern in her investigations. A further complication is Hallie's own growing addiction to gambling, from state lotteries to casinos.
A Kirkus Reviews contributor described A Confidential Source as a novel that is "smoothly told, with welcome insight into compulsive gamblers and insider jabs at newsroom politics." Similarly, New York Times Book Review contributor Marilyn Stasio found that "Brogan's brooding analysis of the gambling itch that leaves so many people rubbed raw is especially persuasive with a narrator like Hallie." In contrast, Booklist contributor David Wright felt that "Brogan's sophomore effort lacks much of the investigative detail and psychological acuity of its predecessor," but a reviewer for MBR Bookwatch deemed the novel "a well thought out thriller that is full of misdirection, especially a believable unexpected u-turn that will surprise an elated audience."
Brogan told CA: "Once I learned to write, I wanted to be a writer. The mystery writer who inspires me most is Scott Turow. The humanity he brings to each and every character deepens the story well beyond the mystery plot. I write five days a week and rewrite extensively. I take detailed notes between the drafts and my second draft takes almost as long as the first.
"The most surprising thing I've learned as a writer is how difficult the business is. This is no career for sissies. My favorite book is my first, Final Copy, which is more personal because I explore (or should I say exploit) my own feelings about losing a beloved brother too early in life. It also skillfully weaves several plots together and shocks most readers with its conclusion.
"In both books, I try to show that the news business is subjective from the moment the editor makes the assignment. Errors and misjudgements are unavoidable in the competitive environment of a newspaper and deadline pressure. There is no real truth, just that day's version of the truth. I also create a flawed protagonist, because brilliant sleuths bore me. I'm not just in the external obstacles, but the internal obstacles we all face in trying to solve any problem."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, February 15, 2005, David Wright, review of A Confidential Source, p. 1063.
Boston Globe, May 19, 2005, David J. Montgomery, "In 'Source,' A Reporter's Investigation Fails to Turn up Satisfying Results," p. D7.
Chicago Tribune, April 17, 2005, Dick Adler, review of A Confidential Source, p. 3.
Kirkus Reviews, March 1, 2005, review of A Confidential Source, p. 260.
Library Journal, December 1, 2004, Ann Kim, review of A Confidential Source, p. 96.
MBR Bookwatch, April, 2005, review of A Confidential Source.
New York Times Book Review, April 24, 2005, Marilyn Stasio, "A Funny Thing Happened," p. 21.
Publishers Weekly, March 21, 2005, review of A Confidential Source, p. 38.
Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA), November 16, 2001, Pamela H. Sacks, "Reporter Switches to Mystery," p. C1.
Armchair Interviews, http://www.armchairinterviews.com/ (July 6, 2005), biography of Jan Brogan.
Jan Brogan Home Page, http://www.janbrogan.com (July 6, 2005).
Time Warner Bookmark, http://www.twbookmark.com/ (July 6, 2005), biography of Jan Brogan.
Who-Dunnit, http://www.who-dunnit.com/ (July 6, 2005), biography of Jan Brogan.