In this debut mystery, an ambitious young man’s rise in the magazine world is stymied by a secret history of murder and betrayal.
When Leaf Wyks, the editor of the high-end interior design magazine Inside, is found poisoned to death in her Los Angeles home, the police immediately suspect Anthony Dimora. Before Leaf abruptly fired him, Anthony was Inside’s art director and the man most likely to take her place on the masthead. Worse yet, it was Anthony who discovered Leaf’s corpse after an early morning phone call lured him to the scene. In his novel, Ross eschews the conventions of the whodunit in favor of a dishy flashback account of Anthony’s rise to the top of the interior design world and the precipitous fall that preceded Leaf’s death. Anthony was initially hired to design advertisements, but his good looks and hairy chest attracted the attention of Timmy, Leaf’s young and sexually game assistant, who, while trying to coax the new hire out of his clothes, gave up the dirt on Inside: Leaf is on the hunt for a new art director; Claret Bruin, the magazine’s publisher, has a beautiful 17-year-old son named Cole who’s notorious for seducing older men; etc. Thanks to Anthony’s singular vision and his pronounced Machiavellian streak, he finds himself working at Leaf’s side, masterminding Inside’s rise to national prominence. Meanwhile, Anthony begins to shed his sexual inhibitions, enjoying trysts with a succession of interior designers, photographers and shop boys, as he bides his time until Cole’s 18th birthday and the consummation of their burgeoning romance. To his credit, Ross manages to pack a great deal of interest and suspense into even the most technical aspects of the magazine business. When Anthony directs a photo shoot, the stakes are high, and the sexiness of the work comes through. Despite a few belabored descriptions of rooms and their furnishings, this world is so enticing that readers might nearly forget to wonder who killed Leaf Wyks and why.
A sexy, scathing insider’s view of an interior design magazine that hardly needs its murder plot to keep readers enthralled.