BLURB: For fans of Kimberley Chambers and Jessie Keane, this compelling crime novel uncovers the dark side of high fashion.
Newspaper journalist Sophie Kent is hanging by a thread following her brother’s suicide, her personal life in chaos.
When the mutilated body of a Russian model turns up in an upmarket hotel on the eve of London Fashion Week, Sophie recognises her from a recent interview and knows she could have saved her. Eaten away by guilt, she throws herself headfirst into the edgy, fast-paced world of fashion with one goal in mind: to catch the killer. Only then can she piece her grief-stricken self back together. As she chips away at the industry’s glittery surface, she uncovers a toxic underworld rife with drugs, secrets, prostitution and blackmail. Battling her demons and her wealthy, dysfunctional family along the way, Sophie pushes her personal problems to one side as she goes head to head with a crazed killer; a killer who is only just getting started…
Sophie Kent is just back at work following the death of her drug addict brother, and while investigating a teenager’s murder runs into a Russian model she first tries to interview as a potential witness. However it’s quickly apparent Natalia has enough on her mind – her black eye and bruised wrists are testament to that. Over a week Sophie meets the lonely Russian, who admits she was raped and that it was someone highly respected in the fashion industry responsible. She is on the verge of giving Sophie the name of her attacker when she rushes out of the pub they’ve been meeting in. Early the next morning, Sophie receives a text giving her the name of an hotel and a room number. Arriving there, she finds there’s been a murder and the police are in attendance. Luckily Sophie knows the senior cop, DCI Durand, as she’d helped him out on another case, and when she hears from another cop the victim had a butterfly tattoo on one finger, she tells Durand she can give him the victim’s name – it’s Natalia. She reveals the model was helping her out on a story, and tells him about Natalia’s rape, in case it’s connected to her death. Or what if someone had seen Natalia meeting Sophie, a journalist, and decided she had to kept quiet permanently? The DCI – and I found this a bit hard to believe – leaned in the room and took photos of the crime scene with Sophie’s iPhone, so she could examine it too. She had been horrifically cut on her face, and her hair chopped off, as though someone wished to destroy her beauty. There’s other injuries too, some sexual (that bit is not for the squeamish.)
From looking at CCTV images from the night before, when a fashion party was taking place in the hotel, Sophie and her colleagues think Natalia is looking terrified every time she sees photographer Liam Crawford, the on-off boyfriend of supermodel Lydia Lawson. He and Lydia have a volatile relationship that’s been well documented in the media. Sophie knows him, as she was at Oxford with him, where they slept together.
But another suspect is thrown into the mix when it’s discovered that Natalia’s obsessive boyfriend from Russia is in the UK, and had been stalking her.
There’s then the murder of a second model, by one or more people, and with the the same MO and signature as Natalia’s. The body is discovered by Sophie, who passes the girl’s house en route to work, and spots her boyfriend running out, leaving the door open. This clearly goes much deeper than just Natalia being raped, as is confirmed when Sophie is anonymously sent a USB stick of the second dead model being sexually assaulted by a series of men. Sophie takes the stick to Cat Harvey, who was both dead girls’ agent, who agrees to help her investigate, as long as her name is kept out of it. It turns out DCI Durand was sent the same USB stick. They come to the conclusion there was some kind of blackmail going on – and perhaps still is, with other models. Sophie, ever the reporter, wants to break the story before it leaks to other papers. But she also wants the killer(s) arrested, and puts herself in danger trying to find out who’s responsible. The revelation of who’s behind it all gives us a superbly shocking ending.
Sophie seems to manage to get her way in everywhere, rather like the Forrest Gump of journalism, and although I found it all a bit too convenient for the storyline, you just have to ride with it, with your eyebrows raising slightly from time to time. She’s a very likeable and ballsy protagonist, and if you can suspend disbelief and just sit back and enjoy the read, then you get yourself a fast-moving, enjoyable thriller, set in the world full of the beautiful – but where beauty is very much only skin deep. I could possibly see a future romance between Sophie and DCI Durrand too! This book would be an absolutely perfect holiday read. And the storyline for book two is already nicely set up towards the end of this book. I for one will look forward to it. This is yet another book from Twenty7, an off-shoot of Bonnier publishing, who are printing debut novels – and every single one I’ve read has been highly enjoyable.