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Cheer for every author who didn’t make the Modern Library’s Top 100, or even a single publisher’s acceptance pile: somebody has declared open season on Britain’s most undeservedly successful novelists. Amazonia Skreen doesn’t see why her own heartfelt fictional outpourings should have been rejected by the same publishers who trumpeted the rubbish of hacks like Adam Appleton, that delicate aesthete who also ghostwrote pornography on the side, or of Mick Roper, the pop singer who probably couldn’t even read the best-selling books issued under his name. Aided by her brawny, monosyllabic sidekick Tup Maul (whose hopeful response to each successful homicide is “Love now?”), she stages elaborately moralizing death scenes for Adam, Mick, and a bevy of other literary types: the self-merchandising success-story whose books are sold at his own coffeeshops; the half-anonymous co-dependent pair Amazonia intends to bring even closer in death; the crypto-fascist ranter of the roman-Ö-clef—all of them so excruciatingly familiar that it’s a pleasure to see the whole lot get their sanguinary comeuppance, especially at the hands (etc.) of the exotic and uninhibited Amazonia. The conceit is so appealing (the Modern Library meets House of Wax, with Sharon Stone in the Vincent Price role), and newcomer Rees is so obviously having a good time, that it seems both stuffy and reckless to complain that the plot device he’s chosen to add momentum and suspense to his series of Dantesque set-pieces(bad-hat Jack Jackson takes over the life of his twin brother, successful author David Jackson, when David succumbs to a miscalculated bout of erotic autoasphyxia, thereby unwittingly placing himself in all the peril David escaped by his timely demise) is so much less interesting than Amazonia’s gleefully lethal swipes at the literary establishment that you can hardly wait for the avenger to add this poseur’s scalp to her collection. An upscale black-comic equivalent of beach reading.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1998
ISBN: 0-7472-5721-3
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: Headline
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1st, 1998