Leeds Merriweather is a patterer in London in 1765. His job is to sell newspapers in the street by hyping their contents. When he loses his job to a more solvent and sober rival, he develops a new type of tavern entertainment which he calls the news performance. Success allows him to incorporate a pretty female reporter, a weatherman, and a sports reporting team into his show. It is the evening news, minus television. But then he goes too far, and faces jail and angry husbands with blood in their eyes.
This would have been a reasonably enjoyable Tom Jones-esque story if the author had not given in to the temptation to shoehorn every possible 20th century pop culture reference into his text. Among many others, I found allusions to Gilligan’s Island, the Nike slogan, My Fair Lady, Bill Nye the science guy, Doppler radar, Billy Joel, Rocky and Bullwinkle, George H.W. Bush, Let’s Make a Deal, the European Union bailout of Spain, and Cool Hand Luke. This barrage of contemporary trivia continually jarred me out of the story.
That said, the book is technically well-written, and others may enjoy it.