Reviewed by Patty Friedrichs
When she joined a minor but respectable London auction house, Judith Rashleigh thought she finally was where she belonged. She enjoyed an Oxbridge education, leaving a neglectful mother and a miserable childhood in Liverpool behind her. So why is she frustrated with London life in general and her job in particular? Her boss treats her no better than a coffee-fetching monkey and London is a filthy, expensive, overcrowded hell hole. Judith is not one to let others make her decisions for her and after a chance encounter with an old schoolmate, she goes to work in one of London’s seedier clubs as a hostess. She also frequents swingers parties in her spare time.
One day, after a shocking meeting with a client, she notices something wrong with one of the house’s paintings up for auction and is promptly sacked. Instead of huddling in a blankie, crying into a mug of tea and circling the job ads in the Guardian, like any other literary heroine would have done, she takes no time whatsoever to decide to investigate further and get revenge on her boss.
That is when Maestra picks up speed. Her mission (and boy, does she choose to accept it) sees her travelling all over Europe, navigating the worlds of the filthy rich as if she were born to a life of yachts, Gucci and Bellinis at the Ritz. She is fiercely determined to make a name for herself and woe betide anyone who stands in her way.
What an odd little book this is. I have never read anything like it. It’s extremely pornographic and extremely violent. It’s as if Bret Easton Ellis rewrote The Talented Mr Ripley with a female protagonist. It’s The Goldfinch as imagined by Jackie Collins. It’s a feminist James Bond.
Unfortunately, it never transcends its obvious influences. That is not to say it’s not enjoyable and that Lisa Hilton can’t write. However, for all its superficial originality it’s still just another hard-boiled airport thriller. One that will undoubtedly be everywhere you look this summer.
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