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Every weekday morning, as the sun rose above Sixth Avenue, a peerless crop of women-frames poised, behavior polished, networks connected, and bodies generally buffed to a high sheen-were herded by the cattle prod of their own ambition to one particular building. They're smart, stylish, and sophisticated, even the one found dead in her office.
When stylish Hillary Whitney dies alone in a locked, windowless conference room at the offices of RAGE Fashion Book, her death is initially ruled an unfortunate side effect of the unrelenting pressure to be thin. But Hillary's best friend and fellow RAGE editor Catherine Ono knows her friend's dieting wasn't a capital P problem. If beauty could kill, it'd take more than that.
When two months later, a cryptic note in Hillary's handwriting ends up in the office of the NYPD and the case is reopened, Det. Mark Hutton is led straight into the glamorous world of RAGE and into the life of hot-headed and fiercely fabulous Cat, who insists on joining the investigation. Surrounded by a supporting cast of party girls, Type A narcissists and half- dead socialites, Cat and her colleague Bess Bonner are determined to solve the case and achieve sartorial perfection. But their amateur detective work has disastrous results, and the two ingénues are caught in a web of drugs, sex, lies and moisturizer that changes their lives forever.
Viciously funny, this sharp and satirical take on the politics of women's bodies and women's work is an addictive debut novel that dazzles with style and savoire faire.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
Barbara Bourland’s deliciously catty debut is The Devil Wears Prada cloaked in Raymond Chandler noir. A maverick fashion magazine is rocked by its glamorous editor’s sudden death. On the surface, the victim was a young woman crushed by the industry’s notoriously cruel beauty standards—but her creative partner and lifelong BFF, Cat Ono, is skeptical of the official story. She plunges headfirst into a dangerous undercover operation…though her hunky NYPD partner definitely sweetens the deal. Gleefully mocking the pretensions of the New York fashion world, I’ll Eat When I’m Dead is both a stinging feminist takedown and a giddy satirical romp.
In her debut, Bourland attempts to update The Devil Wears Prada and kick it up a notch with the story of a thoroughly modern assistant editor at a Vogue-like fashion magazine who teams up with an NYPD detective to solve a murder mystery. The action begins when editor Hillary Whitney s body, in Dior pumps, is discovered on the floor of a Rage Fashion Book workroom. Police conclude she died from a heart attack caused by extreme dieting, but they reopen the case after seeing a cryptic message she sent her brother. Det. Mark Sutton interviews Hillary s silk-and-leather-clad friend and assistant, Flemish-Japanese Cat Ono, prompting Cat to try to dig up more about Hillary s untimely demise. As Rage struggles to compete against online startup Mania, Cat assists Hillary s replacement (the ambitious socialite Lou), while tracking Hillary s designer eye drops to an upscale Brooklyn cosmetics shop, then joining forces with friends and the police to uncover the shop s secrets. Bourland narrates at a quick New York City tempo, detailing perks, personal connections, and property values, both satirizing and celebrating fashion and feminism. Will the hot cop and the cool fashionista hook up? Can Rage pivot to adjust to a changing market? Can its employees pivot without ruining their stilettos? Do crimes committed by the cosmetics firm go beyond overcharging? The writing is stylish even when the answers are obvious.