Glitz is the point of British author Perry’s fashion-obsessed debut, a beach read that was a bestseller in the U.K. in 2006.
After his family's annual Christmas Eve gala, Baron Oswald Balcon falls from a balcony to his death. When his body is found floating in a moat on Christmas morning, Oswald’s daughters are immediately suspects. The story then moves back in time several months, and the daughters’ histories are relayed. It seems that ever since his wife’s death, Oswald has undermined, controlled, badgered and bullied Venetia, Cate, Camilla and Serena Balcon, despite—or because of—the glory and notoriety all four have brought to the family name. Venetia, the eldest, owns a successful design firm and is married to a German aristocrat, Jonathon, selected by her father. Cate has her own travel/fashion magazine, Sand. Camilla, a winning barrister, has been tapped by the Tory party to serve in Parliament. Oswald’s grudging favorite, movie star Serena, recently broke with her actor/director boyfriend Tom to dally in the higher echelons of power with vicious billionaire Michael. But Serena, pregnant by Michael, catches him in mid-orgy and dumps him. Her career nosedives. Daddy is no help—he’s engaged to opera diva Maria, who threatens to produce a legitimate male heir and disinherit Daddy’s girls. Bent on scuttling his other daughters’ success, Oswald corners stock in Venetia’s firm and mocks the fact that she has no children. Resentful of Camilla’s political ambitions—his own fizzled—he threatens to divulge a “dark secret” from her past. When he’s not reminding Cate that she’s the ugly duckling of the family, he’s discouraging potential backers of her magazine. After Oswald’s death, his ghostwriter arrives to blackmail the girls with his Lordship’s memoir-in-progress. The murder mystery takes up approximately the last 80 pages. Unsurprisingly, Oswald’s past—the part left out of his memoirs—holds the key to his homicide, but readers may skim the obligatory clue-sifting to get to the epilogue, where Perry doles out paltry punishments and unearned rewards to her cast of puppets.
Trash with little redeeming flash.