Kate White’s taut thriller begins just as we learn that her heroine, hotshot TV co-host Robin Trainer, is about to the lavished with yet another accolade celebrating her top-rated show, The Pulse, and her new book that has “blown the lid off what women truly feel.” As the opening chapters unfold, Robin is doing things completely out of character like wearing super-high pumps, confident in her newfound sense of self-worth after a messy divorce and a time of extended unemployment.
Robin is thrilled at her success. She’s a smart, independent, savvy career woman who knows what she wants—and up and until now, she has managed to get it. But she has also effectively shielded herself from the petty jealousies and backstabbing typical of this industry—that is, until someone writes terrible slanderous remarks on the cards she’s using to present her speech at her celebratory party. Her evening tainted, Robin realizes for the first time that someone in the room despises her.
In Eyes on You, Robin’s past parallels the present in shocking irony. White unfurls the difficult, abusive knots of Robin’s childhood, the urgencies of the natural evolution of her media career, and the secrets behind her disastrous marriage. Unable to comprehend why someone would be stalking her, Robin turns to her sexy co-host Carter, their on-air chemistry fertile ground for gossip from their staff and the public. Conflicted by the urgency to maintain a semblance of routine, Robin is caught in a conundrum. Her need to compartmentalize is further exacerbated by her physical attraction to Carter, who, as the story progresses, proves to be anything but loyal.
It is a tangled history that reaches far beyond the online coverage, the radio interviews, “and the boatload of tweets and re-tweets,” all officiated by Robin’s media-savvy producers and her personal assistant, Ann. Ann is Robin’s best friend and has been loyal to her boss at every turn. She’s also savvy about PR, and she knows where the landmines are and how to avoid them.
The stakes are high and reputation is paramount. From a series of torn book jackets to a poisoned brownie, the harassment against Robin ratchets up, threatening her job and her relationship with network boss Potts, a sober, stern CEO who likes Robin but seems intent to paint her as some ruthless career chick, “a modern day version of Eve Harrington.” Convinced someone outside of the show’s staff is out to get her, Robin’s suspicions turn to network celebrity Vicki Cruz, who has a ball-buster reputation and once had “full blown status at CNN.” A Queen Bee and “a total nightmare,” Vicki has a history of making trouble.
Outwitted at every turn, White excels at making us feel Robin’s ever-increasing sense of danger. Robin is never glib or too nonchalant. Even when the author darkens her story with a night prowler and a violent murder, her plot never misses the grittiness of true crime noir. Like Robin, I didn’t guess the identity of her attacker until the final pages, even when the mildly surprising revelations throughout allow us to see how Robin struggles with the abandonment of the rules and all the friends she has known and trusted.
From The Pulse’s stark, shiny offices to Robin’s luxurious Manhattan apartment, the action moves within a flawed legal system that fails to protect Robin as she grows more afraid and frustrated. White never lets up, either in the backroom media deals or the personal conflicts faced by Robin’s co-workers. Even the best-laid plans go crazy when Robin discovers that her bitter and evil nemesis might be living right by her side.