Nicholas Coleridge is a writer of skill and invention, utilising an insider's knowledge of the world of glossy magazines to produce fiction that fuses acid social comedy with the pyrotechnics of the thriller. To read Streetsmart
is to enter a world where ruthless decisions alter lives, and people live at the cutting edge of fashion while risking all to maintain their precarious positions. It's not hard to guess who the real-life models for Coleridge's Saskia Thompson are, but his "hottest editor in the world" is still a very individual creation, however many traits she shares with glitzy editors in the real world. Her magazine, the eponymous Streetsmart
, is a heady fusion of celebrity scandal, highly expensive fashion and state-of-the-art-photography. But another element in the mix is investigative journalism--and when Saskia's magazine is taken over by her war reporter brother Max, he finds that some of the ongoing investigations have very dangerous implications. But these are nothing compared to the lethal tightrope Max has to walk in the magazine world, with vicious enemies just waiting for him to fall. The 400-odd pages of Coleridge's pungent and dazzling novel pass before the reader with great speed, such is his skill in delineating this fascinating world. The characters may be larger than life, but they are always granted a verisimilitude that is a million miles away from literary soap opera (a genre, of course, which often inhabits the territory of StreetSmart
). But as in the author's Paper Tigers
and With Friends Like These
, the dialogue is the thing, and remains Coleridge's métier:
"Oh," said Greg, "it's all very kosher medically. It's a stress-related condition that affects high-profile achievers. Women especially. I mean, your sister was photographed with an awful lot of celebrities, wasn't she? Eric Clapton, Ralph Lauren, Tony Blair, Larry King, Princess Diana. And according to this doctor, excess exposure to celebs can erode a sense of self-worth--over a period of years, of course.
When Saskia Thomson is found dead, her war-reporter brother fights to save the magazine she created. But the predators are closing in . . .