As the Wicked Watch: The First Jordan Manning Novel is the first in a new series from Emmy Award–winning journalist Tamron Hall. The book's titular heroine is a crime reporter who moves from Texas to accept a job as an anchor at a television station in Chicago. While there, she investigates the murder of two Black girls by a serial killer spreading fear throughout the Windy City. Ms. Hall recently announced on "The View" that the Jordan Manning novels will be turned into a television series. The book is now available in both hardcover and paperback.
Tamron's words flow seamlessly throughout the novel, and particularly when she describes areas in Chicago. Her descriptions paint pictures of the previously middle-class neighborhood, now fallen into disrepair, on the Southside of Chicago where a crime scene exists. But apart from that vividly realized physical landscape, there is an inescapable embodiment of empathy that broadcaster Jordan Manning feels for the missing victims and their families. They are not statistics to her.
Tamron Hall herself was an anchor in Texas who moved to Chicago where she noticed that some of the instances of missing African-American women were not given the same media attention as missing Caucasian women. The late journalist and moderator of "Washington Week," Gwen Ifill, coined this phenomenon "The Missing White Woman Syndrome." That is, the inordinate amount of news space given to victims who are blonde and blue-eyed, and the almost invisible mention of women of color. Jordan Manning is determined to ascribe meaning to the lives of the missing Black girls through her investigation.
In the novel, Manning hones in on the long journey that was taken by the murdered 15-year-old Masey James—consisting of a two-hour bus trip with a transfer to three difference buses—to arrive at the Math and Science Academy she attends. She notes the care Masey takes with her appearance, her smiling face and likable personality, and the bright future ahead of her. There is no way that this promising young woman ran away, which resulted in her body being found in an abandoned lot. Yet the police refused until too late to treat her as a missing person and put out an amber alert. Manning enlists the help of a forensics expert on her own time to translate the evidence tucked away in a file drawer. She wants to make sense of this crime.
But the novel is also full of fun details about the private life of a single female reporter who dresses fashionably and prefers to keep her love life private. She is married to her career and doesn't leave much space for the lovers who roll in and out of her life at her invitation. She is in control, never taking her eye off the ball.
Hall's real-life efforts to end domestic violence were motivated by the death of her sister, Renate, who was a victim of domestic violence, but whose murder remains unsolved. Ms. Hall received the Edward R. Murrow Award for her segment on domestic violence as part of “TODAY’s” Shine A Light series, and the key to the city of Luling, Texas in 2015. A year later, she was named the Honorary Muse in the largest female Mardi Gras parade. She also launched in conjunction with Safe Horizon a domestic violence awareness fund, The Tamron ❤ Renate Fund in honor of her sister. She was recognized by Day One, a New York-based advocacy group for victims of domestic violence. And she received the Ackerman Family Advocate Award for raising awareness to aid families who have a loved one experiencing abuse.
As the Wicked Watch affirms Hall's status as a writer. When Manning walks through an old building where she suspects the murderer may live, Hall writes, "The steps creaked so loudly, they sounded like they were in pain, threatening to prematurely announce my arrival." Another fine example of her writing that stood out to me is, "Her breathing sounded stunted and hollow, as if air wasn't passing through her lungs but through a hole in her heart instead."
Tamron Hall hosts the nationally syndicated daytime talk show, “Tamron Hall,” which premiered in 2019. Previously she worked at several television stations in Texas (KBTX in 1991, then KTVT in Forth Worth from 1993 through 1997), before moving to Chicago to anchor Fox's morning show for the next decade. She joined the NBC/MSNBC family in 2007, and seven years later, became the first Black woman to host "Weekday Today."
She has presented “Deadline: Crime with Tamron Hall” on Investigation Discovery since September 2013. She also hosted a special, the “Guns On Campus" that explored the importance of securing one’s personal safety on public property. Ms. Hall served as a correspondent for the NBC News special “The Inauguration of Barack Obama,” which won an Emmy for Outstanding Live Coverage in October 2010, and is an active member of the National Association of Black Journalists.
For more information on Tamron Hall, visit her official site.