LOOKING AT WHAT GOES ON UNDER THE CLOTHES
[A Saturday morning in London: police have turned up to arrest Charlotte’s fiancé]
Hegarty hardened his heart against the hysterical blonde girl who was spilling out of her little silk nightie. ‘Miss, we’re here to arrest him,’ he tried again, raising his voice over her sobs. ‘He left his credit card, easy to trace. We have to detain him.’ ‘But everyone does it,’ she was babbling. ‘I don’t even do drugs. It was the first time, I swear.’…
As Dan was being bundled down the stairs, Charlotte stood still in the middle of the living room until she realised she was shivering. She had on her skimpiest nightie, and the policeman had probably seen the side of her breasts. She didn’t even remember putting it on. Snapping out of her frozen calm, she went to the bedroom for a jumper.
observations: This is a very unusual thriller – it has been described as a cross between a murder story and chicklit, and that’s not a bad description. The book starts with a night out for two very different couples: Dan and Charlotte are a white couple – he a banker, she in PR – who are about to be married. Chris and Keisha are black and mixed-race: they have a child (being looked after by Keisha’s mother) and a violent relationship. Both couples end up in the same nightclub, and by the end of the night the club owner is dead. Dan is arrested for his murder the next day.
It is fairly obvious to the reader what has actually happened: but the book then follows Charlotte and Keisha and the investigating policeman, Hegarty, in the months that follow. Charlotte’s life has come crashing down around her: she ends up with no job and no money as well as no wedding and a fiancé in jail. Keisha has her own problems with Chris and her family. Eventually the two women link up, and live together. Charlotte is trying to exonerate Dan, and Keisha may or may not be able to help.
The plot is all over the place, and a lot of the events seem unlikely in the extreme. Ideas are picked up and then thrown aside. Dan tells Charlotte to look for something hidden in a cupboard, so you would think… but she doesn’t bother for months and months. It’s never clear what is important and what isn’t. Some key events happen offstage and are then referred to in passing – I kept wondering if I’d missed a bit, restarted reading at the wrong point. Some of the descriptions of the two young women and their thoughts and differences are very heavy-handed, other characters are stereotyped. But in the end I kept on reading, and I did want to know how it was going to pan out. And I really can’t think of another book, in any genre, quite like it. So, actually, worth reading.
The silk chemise above comes from a firm called Silk Cocoon. The grown-up Bridget Jones wears something similar in this entry.