A London literary agent debuts with a halfhearted celebration of female bonding, tarted up with a murder mystery but mostly concerned with sex, shopping, and food. Beth is a stout but vivacious London caterer, pals with her gay ex-husband Gus, lover with globe-trotting Oliver. Oliver is unhappily married to spoiled but glamorous Vivienne. Vivienne takes her designer cats to Duncan, a charismatic veterinarian, where meek Catherine is the receptionist. Uninhibited Sally is an Aussie bumming around London, blithe, attractive, and penniless. And Georgy is a neurotic American photographer, aggressively besotted with Gus. The five women meet while patients in a gynecological ward, their various maladies being treated by Addison, the one-and- only love of Catherine's youth. The girls stay in touch following their release from the hospital. Only the unlucky Catherine isn't cured, and Addison has to deal with the fact that many years ago, while aborting their baby, he'd caused the wounds that are now killing her. At her funeral, Duncan falls hard for Beth. But all isn't rosy: Drugs apparently sped Catherine's demise. Meanwhile, Vivienne offers to back Georgy's debut as a society-pet photographer, but the gifted lenswoman gets stabbed in the back. This attempted murder finally gets the attention of Georgy's neglectful father, a famous criminal psychologist. The good doctor investigates all of the suspects, but he doesn't move fast enough. It turns out that the accounts of vicious murders sprinkled, without explanation, between chapters are subtle clues that there's a psychopath in the cozy circle—and that none of the friends is safe. Dazed by endless rounds of coincidence, dime-store psychologizing (``Vivienne shopped for one basic reason: a need for love''), and minutely described boozy meals, readers may well be beyond caring who's wielding the knife.
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