From Publishers Weekly, an independent organization (review based upon an unpublished manuscript version as a part of the 2012 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award)
“In this fresh and dark mystery, rising fashion designer Laurie Sparks hires down-to-earth, down on her luck Nicola to research 1980s style and culture. Sparks, an elfish beauty and reality TV personality — think younger, edgier, and flakier Tim Gunn — wonders what next year’s fashion would look like if an apocalypse had stopped design from moving forward back when “Road Warrior” and “Night of the Comet” flickered through America’s imagination. Enter Jonathan, Sparks’s former assistant, who asserts: “I don’t think it occurs to Laurie that there are people…who…don’t want the very best for him.” Sparks’s carefree and careless nature provides the novel a vague sense of dread that is exacerbated by Nicola’s increasing compulsion to protect him, from himself as well as from others. Despite constant warning, Sparks goads Nicola into an ever-deepening pursuit to prove that a world-renowned fashion designer is a hack and possibly a murderer. Snappy dialogue and accomplished descriptions are effortlessly woven into the catty and surprisingly nebulous world of Fashion Week and Emmy Award after-parties. While it addresses a wide range of topics — from the folly of curiosity to the power of innuendo — this novel is also about the fleeting successes that have passed by Generation X and landed on Generation Y, and the anxieties and imbalances such a world view produces. Well done.
Burned out and bitter after a string of disappointments, Nicola Strozyk takes a short-term gig assisting Laurie Sparks, the design world’s reigning enfant terrible. Barely in his twenties, Laurie has built himself an empire that encompasses a chic Manhattan boutique and a role on an obnoxious reality series. Part worldly sophisticate and part cheerful scatterbrain, Laurie is beautiful and extravagant; at nearly twice his age, Nicola is jaded and resolutely unglamorous. As Laurie’s burgeoning fame threatens to overwhelm him, Nicola finds herself struggling to keep him on solid ground.
When Laurie becomes obsessed with tracking down the designer of a mysterious coat, he drags Nicola along on a champagne-fueled quest that takes them from the New York catwalks to glittery Hollywood parties and swanky suites in Paris hotels. What begins as a lark takes an ominous turn when they uncover a decades-old mystery involving the murders of two young models. Along the way, the odd-couple camaraderie between Nicola and Laurie evolves into a fierce bond, which is put to the test when she must protect him from a pair of deadly threats: a mercurial fellow designer hell-bent on burying a dark secret, and an obsessive killer who has fixed his sights on Laurie.