cover image Streetsmart

Streetsmart

Nicholas Coleridge / Author Thomas Dunne Books $26.95 (416p) I

At once an international whodunit and a glimpse into the glitzy high-end fashion magazine industry, this glossy novel by Cond Nast U.K. executive Coleridge (With Friends Like These) offers murder, sex, advertising conspiracies and one six-page chapter devoted almost entirely to cologne. After attending a star-studded Park Avenue soir e, Saskia Thompson, ""the most famous magazine editor in the world,"" is found dead in her Manhattan apartment. Saskia was not only StreetSmart's editor, but also its founder and president, and both the New York and London offices of the magazine are paralyzed by the news of her murder. In blunders Saskia's distant older brother Max, a rough-hewn photojournalist just back from Afghanistan, who is apparently named in Saskia's will as custodian of the magazine until her illegitimate young son, Cody, is old enough to take control. Meanwhile, three sharks are circling for ownership of StreetSmart: tienne Bercuse, head of a luxury-goods business conglomerate; predatory Caryl Fargo, head of StreetSmart's main competitor, Town Talk; and Freddie Saidi, a shady Lebanese financier reputed to be an arms dealer. Desperate to find his sister's killer and keep her magazine alive, Max--with a little help from Saskia's lawyer, a sexpot junior staffer and some beer-swilling photographer comrades--provides content for the magazine, squares off with his competitors and investigates Saskia's death. Readers will enjoy Coleridge's depiction of magazine workplaces, as well as the white-collar ferocity of Max's foes. But there is a certain amount of condescension inherent in the author's descriptions of the well-meaning but bumbling Max and his brave but obviously lower-class combat colleagues. Still, for all of StreetSmart's satire of the fashion world, it is the novel's soap opera-ish glamour that will keep readers turning the pages to the bravado finale. (June)