I'll Eat When I'm Dead by Barbara Bourland

I'll Eat When I'm Dead

When stylish Hillary Whitney dies alone in a locked, windowless conference room at the offices of high-concept magazine RAGE Fashion Book, her death is initially ruled an unfortunate side effect of the unrelenting pressure to be thin.But two months later, a cryptic note in her handwriting ends up in the office of the NYPD and the case is reopened, leading Det. Mark Hutton...

Title:I'll Eat When I'm Dead
Author:
Rating:
ISBN:1455595217
Edition Language:English
Format Type:Hardcover
Number of Pages:336 pages

I'll Eat When I'm Dead Reviews

  • Blair
    Apr 24, 2017

    The opening scene of

    depicts the discovery of a woman's body. Hillary Whitney is found in a locked office at her place of work, the luxury magazine RAGE Fashion Book. The verdict: death by starvation, a cautionary tale about what the quest for extreme thinness might drive an otherwise sensible woman to. What follows, however, is mostly an entertaining, frothy comedy-drama and send-up of the fashion magazine world. The plot features a couple of mysterious deaths, but there'

    The opening scene of

    depicts the discovery of a woman's body. Hillary Whitney is found in a locked office at her place of work, the luxury magazine RAGE Fashion Book. The verdict: death by starvation, a cautionary tale about what the quest for extreme thinness might drive an otherwise sensible woman to. What follows, however, is mostly an entertaining, frothy comedy-drama and send-up of the fashion magazine world. The plot features a couple of mysterious deaths, but there's also the question of who will get promoted to Hillary's fashion director role at RAGE, and a love triangle involving Cat, the editorial heir apparent who emerges as the novel's main figure.

    There are a few nods to deeper issues, but ironically (or deliberately?) they're about as superficial as the features about feminism and ethical fashion often found in women's magazines these days. I never felt the book was sure whether it wanted to condemn or celebrate the fashion industry and its attendant excesses, and I grew fed up of the exhaustive descriptions of everyone's outfits and beauty regimes. It's also pretty difficult to care about the professional fates of super-rich people who got their jobs through nepotism in the first place anyway.

    Despite its edgy title,

    is ultimately a bit of a silly confection; think cosy crime with a side order of couture and sex, rather than the 'viciously funny, sharp and satirical' affair the blurb suggests. (If this had been published in the 90s, the cover would've been pink with a loopy font and an illustration of skinny legs in high heels emerging from a New York taxi.) I'd say it's far more chick-lit than thriller, but that's no bad thing. It's fun, feather-light and sugary – I would say 'like a meringue', but the women of RAGE Fashion Book would probably break out in hives at the mere mention of one.

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  • Susan
    Apr 09, 2017

    With a fantastic title, good blurb and an interesting setting, this novel seemed to have everything to create an excellent mystery. It is set around the fashion industry, in general, and the offices of a fashion magazine, “RAGE Fashion Book,” in particular. Catherine Ono is a senior editor at the magazine and was a school friend of her colleague, Hillary Whitney, whose body was found in a locked workroom in the New York office building where ‘RAGE’ is housed, having suffered a heart attack due t

    With a fantastic title, good blurb and an interesting setting, this novel seemed to have everything to create an excellent mystery. It is set around the fashion industry, in general, and the offices of a fashion magazine, “RAGE Fashion Book,” in particular. Catherine Ono is a senior editor at the magazine and was a school friend of her colleague, Hillary Whitney, whose body was found in a locked workroom in the New York office building where ‘RAGE’ is housed, having suffered a heart attack due to end-stage starvation. The only clue to her mysterious death was an upturned box of ribbon, referred to in a postcard found later by her brother; whose huge donation to the NYPD was enough to see the case re-opened. Enter handsome detective, Mark Hutton, who sets out to try and make a name for himself by solving the case. Did Hillary Whitney die due to a long term eating disorder, or was something else involved?

    Cat Ono is the central character in this novel and she is confused as to why the NYPD are re-investigating the case. Indeed, it does seem unclear, even to the reader, as her death was initially given as natural causes. Cat has good reason to be unimpressed by the initial police investigation, but the author is at pains to tell us, firstly, that the fashion industry is not a frivolous one and, two, to emphasise the bonds of sisterhood among the female characters. It is difficult to combine fashion and feminism, but this is a point which is laboriously driven all the time, with Cat keen to point out why her job is important, the fact that how she presents herself is part of her role and that spending money on fashion is not frivolous. So, we have the office of ‘RAGE’ which does not contain anything as boring, or provincial, as a receptionist; but, instead, houses a single phone – while staff members wave mobiles at apparently blank walls to open them. Appearances are, literally, everything and this involves a lot of partying, being seen at the right places, an unhealthy reliance on drugs and staying thin, along with many characters seeing eating disorders as quite acceptable.

    Lots of this novel was really enjoyable, and many of the points made were very interesting. Staff members at ‘RAGE’ spend their time being bombarded by products, by those hoping their clothes, bags, cosmetics and jewellery will be presented in the magazine. Still, like most published magazines now, they are under pressure to stay relevant in the era of social media, where other forms can showcase fashion more quickly, and cheaply, than a printed publication. Sometimes, though, the different issues overwhelm the story. I enjoyed the parts set in the magazine offices most; with the elderly matriarch editor in chief, Margot Villiers, the hard working associate editor, Bess Bonner and the bizarrely named replacement for Hillary, Whig Beaton Molton-Mauve Lucas (thankfully known as Lou). Detective Mark Hutton worked less well, although I would have liked the mystery element to have taken more of a centre stage to the desire, by the author, to show her knowledge of the fashion world. Still, an interesting read – it would be a good choice for book groups, as it has a lot to discuss – and I would certainly try more by this debut author.

  • Magdalena aka A Bookaholic Swede
    Apr 28, 2017

    Did you like Sex and the City or/and The Devil Wears Prada, but thought it could have been better with some unexpected deaths? Then I'll Eat When I'm Dead by Barbara Bourland is a book for you. Personally do I not really care that much about fashion, but I liked the idea of the book. At first, I thought it would be some kind of locked room kind of murder, but the plot took a different route. Another thing that I thought of during the books progresses what how suitable the story is for today's no

    Did you like Sex and the City or/and The Devil Wears Prada, but thought it could have been better with some unexpected deaths? Then I'll Eat When I'm Dead by Barbara Bourland is a book for you. Personally do I not really care that much about fashion, but I liked the idea of the book. At first, I thought it would be some kind of locked room kind of murder, but the plot took a different route. Another thing that I thought of during the books progresses what how suitable the story is for today's nonstop celebrity attention. With mobile phones can you guaranty to always be watched even if your celebrity is because of, for instance, a jail stint.

    Catherine "Cat" Ono and her friend and colleague Bess Bonner are shocked when Hillary Whitney is found dead, but this is only the start. Going through a bag Hillary left behind do they find a strange bottle. What is in the bottle? What they don't foresee is how their lives will change dramatically thanks to the small and insignificant bottle...

    I'll Eat When I'm Dead is a book that I think will appeal to readers of fashion magazines or just like fashion. Personally did the book work on some level for me, but since I'm more likely to spend money on books than clothes were there moments in the book when my interested dwindled. I liked Cat and Bess enough to find their trials and tribulations interesting and I can understand how daunting it must be for them to be thrust into the limelight. But, when a little over half the book was done did I feel like the story started to slow down and I was thinking is this it? What happened to "the criminal" part of the story? Is the rest just about Cat and Bess suddenly famous? However, the story did pick up towards the end of the book and the turn into did make so much sense that I was astonished that I didn't see it coming earlier. But, I guess I was blindsided by all the fashion things going on.

  • Rachel
    Apr 08, 2017

    ★★★★

    4 STARS

    A note: I received this book from Quercus Books via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

    meets

    , writes Louise O’Neill and I’d say that’s a fairly accurate summary.

    From the very first paragraph we’re thrust into the endlessly ruthless world of fashion, specifically running a fashion magazine.

    is an ethical, feminist look at the fashion world in an effort to hold others accountable f

    ★★★★

    4 STARS

    A note: I received this book from Quercus Books via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

    meets

    , writes Louise O’Neill and I’d say that’s a fairly accurate summary.

    From the very first paragraph we’re thrust into the endlessly ruthless world of fashion, specifically running a fashion magazine.

    is an ethical, feminist look at the fashion world in an effort to hold others accountable for their purchasing of cheap, factory made clothing.

    And in this world, we’re introduced to the characters of Cat (senior editor), Bess (assistant) and Lou (interim editor) following the death of their fellow friend and colleague, Hillary, who was found dead, in a locked windowless room.

    This book seems to operate on two fronts: one, a satirical look at the fashion world and all it’s pretentiousness. The whole book is a veritable name-dropping of who’s-who, what’s what and where’s-where’s. For the everyday layman, about one in a hundred of these brands, places, objects will be recognisable. Whilst in the context of this book it works (and being an ex-Vogue aficionado in my student days) I really enjoyed it, I can understand if some readers would start to feel frustrated by the name dropping. Some of the descriptions start to read like a Charles Dickens sentence in the sheer length and (perhaps) unnecessary details.

    On one level then: a satirical, fun, Victoria Fox and Tasmina Perry-style read about the glamorous girls at a fashion magazine.

    On the other level: a wannabe murder novel.

    Something about this novel works but I can’t quite put my finger on what. The whole ‘colleague found dead in a windowless, locked room’ took much more of a backseat than I thought it would. Even though we’re introduced to hot detective Mark Hatton in Chapter Two, we follow the fashion girls more than the murder story. At times, the story meanders and turns into an expose on these girls lives rather than a genuine mystery.

    The only thing that irked me slightly (and maybe that’s my lack of fashion credentials talking) is the idea of Bess and Cat, two fashion editors, becoming famous for being arrested. What? Does this happen? I didn’t get the impression they were ‘famous’ before their incarceration so why after? If that was any normal job, you’d probably be fired or on a severe warning.

    Perhaps it was satirical but the rest of the book borders on non-satire or satire-so-deep-you-can’t-see-it, that that part of the story doesn’t quite fit for me.

    Overall though, I really enjoyed it. It’s a piece of escapism in the style of the chic-lit glamour writers with a darker, undertone revealing the true price of looking good.

  • Paromjit
    Apr 28, 2017

    Barbara Bourland, a renowned fashion columnist and industry expert, has written a bitingly funny and canny satire on the huge behemoth that is the fashion industry. It begins with the death of Hillary Whitney in a locked room in the offices of the magazine. RAGE Fashion Book. She appears to have suffered from a heart attack induced by her extreme eating disorders. After a donation to NYPD and the discovery of a note written by Hillary, the case is reopened. The good looking and ambitious detecti

    Barbara Bourland, a renowned fashion columnist and industry expert, has written a bitingly funny and canny satire on the huge behemoth that is the fashion industry. It begins with the death of Hillary Whitney in a locked room in the offices of the magazine. RAGE Fashion Book. She appears to have suffered from a heart attack induced by her extreme eating disorders. After a donation to NYPD and the discovery of a note written by Hillary, the case is reopened. The good looking and ambitious detective, Mark Hutton, investigates, aiming to ascertain whether there is more to the death of Hillary.

    Catherine 'Cat' Ono had known Hillary since her schooldays and is a senior editor at the magazine. She wants to know what happened to Hillary and embarks on a rollercoaster of a relationship with Mark Hutton. Cat and Bess Bonner decide to get to the bottom of the mystery of Hillary's death, only to find themselves out of their depth and mired in trouble. There is the the illegal use of drugs in products that lead to addiction by a cosmetics company. We have Cat justifying the importance of the fashion conscious industry. There are non stop digs on brands, drug-taking, celebrity, socialites, party girls, models, the expectations to be ever thinner at all costs and be up to date on fashion trends. Cat's work turns out to develop, to be more driven, highly stressed, pressurised and competitive in the age of social media and new start ups like Mania.

    This is a light-hearted and entertaining read packed with comic humour and cutting jibes, the subject matter treads similar ground to The Devil Wears Prada. There are numerous threads in the novel and the mystery aspect of it is downgraded as a sideshow to the central focus on the shortfalls of the fashion industry. Bourland comes at the story from a place with ethics and principles but on occasion it was tiring to be bombarded with endless satire. Nevertheless, I found the book to be an interesting and enjoyable read. Thanks to Quercus for an ARC.

  • Abbie
    May 22, 2017

    Beauty can be deadly … quite literally in Hillary Whitney’s case. When the editor is found dead in one of the work rooms at Rage Fashion Book, the magazine she works for, a heart attack caused by near starvation is found to be the cause. However, friend and colleague Cat Ono suspects otherwise.

    I have mixed feelings about this book, as somebody who doesn’t read magazines and has no interest in fashion and beauty, I’ll Eat When I’m Dead wasn’t an obvious choice of book for me. I was drawn in by th

    Beauty can be deadly … quite literally in Hillary Whitney’s case. When the editor is found dead in one of the work rooms at Rage Fashion Book, the magazine she works for, a heart attack caused by near starvation is found to be the cause. However, friend and colleague Cat Ono suspects otherwise.

    I have mixed feelings about this book, as somebody who doesn’t read magazines and has no interest in fashion and beauty, I’ll Eat When I’m Dead wasn’t an obvious choice of book for me. I was drawn in by the promise of biting humour and the investigation of a death. I did find some of the book amusing with its sardonic look at the fashion and publishing industry but I would have preferred more emphasis on the suspicious death of Hillary.

    Cat Ono, the main character, is well constructed and likeable. A feminist at heart, she dislikes the way in which women are used as commodities but sadly finds herself pulled into this position. I loved the tongue-in-cheek humour with the names given to Rage’s photo shoots making me giggle. I’ll Eat When I’m Dead’s underlying theme is that of the murky side of the fashion industry and consumerism and Bourland highlights the impact of globalisation and how we, women particularly, are perceived to be worthy by the products they own, the clothes they wear and the way they look. The issues of bulimia are raised along with cocaine use and fad diets, all issues you would expect to see within the world of fashion.

    Bourland has cleverly created a sardonic look at the world of fashion, however I would have liked more focus on the death of Hillary. While she captures the world of fashion and the pressures of working within a magazine environment really well, I did struggle to get into I’ll Eat When I’m Dead. I don’t think this is a reflection on the book or Bourland’s writing, but more about me and my tastes.

    If you are interested in fashion and enjoy sardonic humour then give I’ll Eat When I’m Dead a read. The novel has a lot to say about some pertinent issues which I liked and parts of it made me laugh, however I was expecting more about the death and the investigation and the focus being on the fashion industry, sadly, made it difficult to hold my attention.

    A huge thank you to Barbara Bourland and Alainna at Quercus books for the advance copy.

  • Cora ☕ Tea Party Princess
    May 30, 2017

    When I first heard about this book, I was excited. Although I'm not the most fashionable person, I do love to follow fashion and have my glossy's on subscription. RAGE is everything I wish I could actually read. And this book absolutely delivers on every promise the blurb hints at.

    I was very quickly hooked by this book and could not put it down. I was completely entranced by Cats' story, and the only thing that could have made it better wa

    When I first heard about this book, I was excited. Although I'm not the most fashionable person, I do love to follow fashion and have my glossy's on subscription. RAGE is everything I wish I could actually read. And this book absolutely delivers on every promise the blurb hints at.

    I was very quickly hooked by this book and could not put it down. I was completely entranced by Cats' story, and the only thing that could have made it better was if there was more Bess.

    I loved the intrigue and the descriptions of fashion, the colourful cast of characters, and the subtly intertwining relationships.

    This book really is The Devil Wears Prada meets American Psycho.

  • Carol (Bookaria)
    Jun 02, 2017

    This book is more chick-lit than mystery. At the beginning I was excited to immerse myself in a conspiratorial thriller that takes place in the corporate offices of a fashion magazine but soon discovered this story was more

    than

    . Anyways, it was an ok read, I didn't find the characters particularly interesting or inspiring but it wasn't as bad as too abandon it half-way.

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