FOCUS by Natalie Ray

FOCUS

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KIRKUS REVIEW

From Texas fashion-writer Ray, a thinly plotted but knowledgeable melodrama about the care, feeding, and destruction of a lovely young model. By the merest of chances, Simon Bishop, the amoral art director of the trend-setting fashion mag Trove, has found what he has dreamed of all his life: a stunning young beauty to mold and shape. She's 13-year-old Lina Svoboda of small-town New Jersey--a ""child-woman"" with lips that ""seem to be bursting with juices like some rare succulent fruit"" and eyes that stare with ""feline insolence."" Naturally, Bishop takes her away from her unbelievably trusting parents, drugs her, rapes her, and makes her rich and famous. Or almost does: the shoot that will catapult her onto Trove's cover takes place in Mexico, where handsome photographer Terry Griffin realizes something's wrong with Lina--but before he can help her, she drowns accidentally while high on Bishop's drugs. With Lina gone, the story takes less dramatic and more predictable turns, focusing on the on-again, off-again romance of Griffin and stylist Molly McFarlin, and on Bishop's eventual downfall at the hands of a tycoon who discovers that Bishop has been demanding kickbacks from modeling agencies. By the time Matt and Molly ride off into the sunset, much of the book's initial momentum has been lost. Still: stereotypical but nicely smarmy characters, plenty of smart, tough insider's talk about the fashion biz, and an at least serviceable plot, unfortunately marred by the less-than-strategic early departure of Lina.

Pub Date: April 19th, 1988
Publisher: St. Martin's