Every weekday morning, as the sun rises above Sixth Avenue, a peerless crop of women - frames poised, behavior polished, networks connected, and bodies generally buffed to a high sheen - are herded by the cattle prod of their own ambition to one particular building. They're smart, stylish, and sophisticated, even the one found dead in her office.
When stylish Hillary Whitney dies alone in a locked, windowless conference room at the offices of RAGE Fashion Book, her death is initially ruled an unfortunate side effect of the unrelenting pressure to be thin. But Hillary's best friend and fellow RAGE editor, Catherine Ono, knows her friend's dieting wasn't a capital P problem. If beauty could kill, it'd take more than that.
When, two months later, a cryptic note in Hillary's handwriting ends up in the office of the NYPD and the case is reopened, Det. Mark Hutton is led straight into the glamorous world of RAGE and into the life of hotheaded and fiercely fabulous Cat, who insists on joining the investigation. Surrounded by a supporting cast of party girls, type A narcissists, and half-dead socialites, Cat and her colleague Bess Bonner are determined to solve the case and achieve sartorial perfection. But their amateur detective work has disastrous results, and the two ingénues are caught in a web of drugs, sex, lies, and moisturizer that changes their lives forever.
Viciously funny, this sharp and satirical take on the politics of women's bodies and women's work is an addictive debut novel that dazzles with style and savoir faire.
"Thoroughly modern...stylish. Bourland narrates at a quick New York City tempo, detailing perks, personal connections, and property values, both satirizing and celebrating fashion and feminism." (Publisher's Weekly)
"Delightfully, playfully skewering the fashion and beauty industries, this is like The Devil Wears Prada with more feminism, plus murder." (Booklist)
"Bourland's delightfully snarky debut leans heavily on satire, poking razor-sharp fun at the beauty industry and the cut-throat world that Bess and Cat inhabit, and some scenes are laugh-out-loud funny. However, for all the outrageous (and eye-opening) focus on makeup, beauty, fashion, and of course, the desire to be thin, there are tantalizing glimpses of the vulnerability and insecurities beneath the surface. Death by beauty was never so much fun." (Kirkus)
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