Crystal Scott has worked her way to editor-in-chief of a popular magazine, and while she’s achieved a dream position, there’s a darker motivation behind her ambition.
Crystal has transformed Hipster magazine from failure to media sensation, and its success has helped parent company Stuart Mitchell Enterprises, a black-owned publishing, advertising, and marketing firm, raise its profile. Now company owner William Mitchell is handing the reins over to his son, Troy, and Crystal is determined to make Troy take notice of her. Which he does. Troy is intrigued by Crystal from the moment he meets her, both professionally and personally, and while he is officially engaged to socialite Vanessa, that doesn’t stop him from pursuing Crystal. Entering into a sexual relationship is the first step in Crystal’s long-game plan of revenge that goes back to a shared violent history between the two families, which she has leveraged by infiltrating the business under a different name and is helped by Troy’s utter obliviousness about who she is, despite their practically having been engaged 10 years earlier. Brown (White Lines III: All Falls Down, 2015, etc.) starts her newest novel in the glamorous world of high-fashion publishing and winds up in the Harlem underworld, connecting the dots through William and his brother, Don, who’s basically a criminal kingpin who ruined Crystal’s family. The book is almost two distinct stories, past and present, edgy urban violence and sophisticated Manhattan fashion world. Unfortunately the links between the two seem unlikely and ask for a huge suspension of disbelief that the successful business wouldn’t have been sabotaged by such close ties to criminal aggression. Plus, despite Crystal's nose job and some lost weight, it’s hard to believe Troy wouldn’t recognize her at all. The characters are unlikable, incessant hopping among their points of view undermines the storytelling, and the rushed, violent ending is disturbing, introducing a sequel that hints at more of the same.
Implausible and unpleasant.