cover image The Other Half

The Other Half

Charlotte Vassell. Anchor, $27 (368p) ISBN 978-0-593-68594-5

Vassell’s crackling debut skewers England’s current crop of gilded youth. Rich, handsome Rupert Beauchamp, who’s about to inherit a title, throws himself a lavish 30th birthday party in London’s buzzy Kentish Town: it’s an ironic black-tie affair at the local McDonald’s, catered with buckets of champagne and mountains of cocaine. The next morning, while British-Jamaican detective Caius Beauchamp (no relation to Rupert) is out jogging, he happens upon the corpse of Rupert’s influencer girlfriend, Clemmie, in Hampstead Heath. Given that all the party attendees have alibis, the obvious suspect is Nell, a beautiful editor at a literary press whom Rupert has long planned to leave Clemmie for. Nell, however, has grown ambivalent about Rupert and his social circle, so Caius pursues other leads as well. His search takes him through a web of overprivileged suspects on whom the detective casts a half-contemptuous, half-envious eye, and eventually delivers him to the doorstep of a murderous, elite conspiracy. Vassell gleefully plunges into the underbelly of 21st-century entitlement, creating vivid sketches of aimless young Londoners gorging on designer clothes and designer drugs—sometimes at the expense of her core mystery. Still, as a diamond-sharp satirical whodunit in the vein of Liane Moriarty, this succeeds. Agent: Jon Wood, RCW Literary. (Nov.)