Right from the very first page, I was hooked with any novel. That first couple of pages is so vitally important, and the author had me wide-eyed and admittedly gagging a little (a lot) with its rather vividly described sights and the stench of death. Fortunately, this is an adult novel and not a child’s ‘scratch and sniff’.
Welcome to the deep, damp, and dark places full of blowflies lots of flying revolting things. Oh, and if you happen to be Claustrophobia, skip a few chapters for as Ann- Real Name ‘Andromeda Galaxy Smyth’ from the Kent Police Forensic Unit ‘The heavy team’ will tell you,
‘You are in a fucking black hole’
I was instantly intrigued by the detailed inner workings of Ann’s team of Henry, Lewis, Ralph, and Ritchie, headed by the brooding Jack Jordan, as they discuss the complexities of defending deep into the hell of the well.
The secrets, 20 ft down, have a lot to hide, and due to Ann’s natural size, shape and dexterity (yes she’s a woman) she’s, against her better judgment, the one to reveal them.
And so, before she has the chance to reside, our bright-eyed, bushy-tailed Ann is expertly glammed in a blue boiler suit, earpiece, helmet with a camera, tool belt with all necessary equipment abs most importantly a face mask, no one wants to blow flies in any facial orifice.
After Ann’s grand reveal, and at which point I’m utterly engrossed, the switches abruptly to the introduction of Author Ruby Latimer.
The author has a naughty but oh, so skilful tendency to drag you right to a storylines (and my nerves) edge, dangling you over, then dragging you back. A theme of which is repeated throughout.
As a reader, initially, I was frustrated at the switch, I’m impatient. I wanted more of Ann, but all is revealed. Give it time.
Fortunately, Ruby is one hell of a protagonist. the author has created an addictive, love-to-hate character personality that really came alive.
Ruby’s story begins here, with the introduction of other well-formed, interesting characters such as research journalist Lizzie Spector. Tasked with the brain-numbing stories at C8 news. Despite her potential. Until she meets the ‘Mad Cow’ that is Ruby.
Ruby is a coffee powdered zealot.
She's ruthlessly high maintenance, prima Donna. Ruby is self-opinionated, she’s loud and brash and she’s a narcissist. And, subsequently, our Ruby is alone. No lovers, no children, no stable relations. Libido less- sees sex as anathema to her. (For a while)
But, Ruby is dependant on nobody but herself, a self-made woman,
and frankly Ruby views herself as far superior to all us idiots in relationships.
Ruby’s one irritant is that she is forced to keep up her facade of being nice to sell her books. Oh, the irony.
Ruby’s facade has however extended to a ‘fan club’, despite Ruby’s disgust.
Enter Gretchen and Lucinda Turner
The Turner two shift the novel to some eye-opening sexual heights. And I’m no prude.
Sex, or indeed lack of, is a pretty strong theme that accrues throughout the novel, in various forms.
Enter Ruby’s literary agent Arthur Newell. Self-confessed long-suffering, human punch bag, but above all a bloody good agent. The best of the best. Real dog's body.
Every author needs a publisher, and so, Ruby has Greville Walsh.
Chauvinistic pic check
Dirty old flirt, with an ever-extending List of sexual innuendoes. Check
Akin to Harvey Veinstone (joke) Arthur’s harmless, really.
Literary agent Arthur Newell and Greville Walsh are, I quote
‘Inextricably Bound together by the cutthroat industry that was their lifeblood, that is Literary ‘sausage machine’ called publishing’
And Of course the editors, such as our very clever Marion and co. Poor Marion is tasked with reading through Ruby’s ‘snore fest’ of her new book in its original draft, what little there is of it. At this point anyway. Watch this space.
No ‘sausage machine’ runs smoothly without the little people too, the runners, like sweet virgin Walter Sims. Don’t underestimate him though, he’s got dreams, he’ll go far.
Collectively, the ‘sausage machine’ wouldn’t exist at all without the myriad of decent authors that pass through their doors, and above
all else they all need the old Cow Ruby.
Herein is the beginning of Ruby’s book. The somewhat bizarre tale, the book, within the book. The start of Ruby’s demise.
‘Barry and Nancy’ by Ruby Latimer
Typically Nancy is a trophy wife. Barry married Nancy for her looks and the sex
Nancy married Barry for the luxury and his money (shock)
It’s their 19 year anniversary. Set the scene, first-class flight to Rome.
Mid-flight, Our Nancy sees what she shouldn’t.
There are men in a black, double-crossing death wish. Big balloons.
I’ll leave it there, and so did Ruby.
Ruby is still not sure how to end the story, until a chance encounter, some private advice and a fair lot of sexual gratification. And there is the answer to her problems, and therein, is the start of a scandal and the crux of the novel.
As well as being a work of fiction, the novel involves some genuine, inside scoop about the process in which a budding author will go through to entice an agent and the editing, publishing, advertising and sales process thereafter.
Rather interesting and a little terrifying for someone who wishes one day to be a Ruby, without the dodgy personality traits.
There’s further reference to the overwhelming amount of work sent to publishing houses from USP hopefuls. Sadly, the majority of which, don’t make it past the shredder, or
If you’re a little luckier stockpiled.
There are many cleverly entwined strands to the novel, crime, failure, successes, sexuality, self-discovery, relationships, heartache and heart-brake. There are twists and turns in abundance.
I enjoyed the author's sense of humour and despite it being a crime thriller, I felt myself giggling away.
The novel is full to the brim of varying storylines, backstories and personalities. There’s times in which I felt it was a little predictable but I enjoyed the process of figuring out who the ghostwriter was.
It’s a relatively short (circa 250 pages) easy read thriller.
It’s brilliantly written, yet I found it a little sporadic at times- this I believe is however part of the fun. Catching up.
It was an enjoyable read, although I felt as if something was missing Having said that I can’t put my finger on the component was.
I think the novel will fare well with sales. I’d certainly recommend it to close that enjoy what I’d describe as a ‘cosy thriller’ novel.