WHAT YOU SEE by Hank Phillippi Ryan Reviewed


Hank Phillippi Ryan
Forge Books
October 20th, 2015

WHAT YOU SEE, book four in the Jane Ryland series by Hank Phillippi Ryan, blends suspense, humor, and issues of the day.  With multiple story lines told by numerous narrations, readers come to understand the workings of a crime scene.  These sub-plots include murder, child abduction, and treachery. Also explored are the characters loyalties, having to decide between family and their career.

As with all Ryan’s books Jane Ryland investigates a story while Detective Jake Brogan is solving a crime, bringing both together somewhere in the plot. The plot begins with her having quit a job based upon principle. She interviews for a new job with Channel 2 and is given the task of covering a stabbing in Curley Park, Boston.  Once again Jane is put into a position of covering a case her boyfriend Jake is investigating.  He must uncover witnesses to find the truth behind the killing.

The plot insightfully explores the current issue of privacy.  With cameras everywhere, including in cell phones, on buildings, and on streetlights, can a crime be easily solved? A powerful quote says, “Life never just happened anymore.  Memories had to be indelible, every event captured.  And shared.” Because the murder takes place in front of City Hall there must be some surveillance.  But this video leads into a dark conspiracy where what you see is not always as it seems.

Having to deal with the political fallout from City Hall Camera Surveillance, Catherine, the Mayor’s Chief of Staff, must juggle her job responsibilities with her family. Something any parent can relate to is this powerful quote, “Geographically, her daughter was inches away.  Emotionally?  Right now, Catherine didn’t have time to fix it.” But Jane also had a conflict between family and her job. While investigating the crime, her sister calls asking for help in finding her future stepchild who appears to be abducted. Ryan vividly writes how Jane is being pulled in multiple directions, forced to switch tasks and put family first. Interestingly when asked hypothetically the title of a future autobiography Jane responds, The Juggler. It is fitting since she must decide when to put family ahead of her job, something most people struggle with consistently.

Readers will also be amused with some of Ryan’s well-placed humor.  In a scene there is definitely a take off on the famous “who is on first, what’s on second” skit. More than anything the humorous interludes allows for a relief from the tension packed story.

Ryan is able to create believable plots by using her experiences of a television investigative reporter who has won over thirty Emmys.  Readers become enthralled and engaged with a story that has a hectic pace of child abduction, murder, surveillance, and political secrets.


Elise  Cooper