Cover image for Streetsmart
Title:
Streetsmart
Author:
Coleridge, Nicholas, 1957-
Personal Author:
Edition:
First U.S. edition.
Publication Information:
New York : St. Martin's Press, 2000.

©1999
Physical Description:
387 pages ; 25 cm
General Note:
First published in Great Britain by Orion.
Language:
English
ISBN:
9780312199609
Format :
Book

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Summary

Summary

A hard-edged photojournalist, Max Thompson covers the brutal world of war: Bosnia, Angola, Afghanistan. He is contemptuous (if not a bit jealous) of his glamorous younger sister's role as the editor-in-chief of the hippest new fashion magazine in New York. Beautiful, clever and famous, Saskia suddenly commits suicide and leaves the magazine to Max. Someone is out to destroy the magazine, but Saskia's note begged him not to sell. As he probes deeper into the sinister conspiracy, his sister's mysterious past, and the heart of the glossy magazine industry, Max begins to wonder if his new career may not be more dangerous than covering wars.


Reviews 1

Publisher's Weekly Review

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, MaxÄwith a little help from Saskia's lawyer, a sexpot junior staffer and some beer-swilling photographer comradesÄprovides 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) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved


Excerpts

Excerpts

Chapter One New York Saskia Thompson, the most famous magazine editor in the world, glared at somebody way across the ballroom.     `I don't believe it, he's here.'     `Who's here?' asked Kitty. There must have been eighteen hundred people in the room, half of them famous. That night, it would have been simpler to draw up a list of who wasn't there.     `Just someone I hoped wouldn't have the bad taste to show up.'     Saskia pressed her lips together grimly. Kitty knew better than to question her editor further. With Saskia, it was generally prudent to keep a little distance.     Newspaper profiles of Saskia Thompson invariably referred to her highly calibrated social radar, which registered all sources of human power within a distance of a hundred feet. Tonight, in the ballroom of the Waldorf Astoria, it was functioning like air traffic control over a busy metropolitan airport. Turning on her heel, Saskia paused to kiss Ted Turner of CNN, before moving with the precision of a chess piece -- a knight, Kitty felt, two paces forward, one to the side -- across the geometric carpet of the ballroom. Calvin Klein, Isabella Rossellini, Steven Spielberg, Isaac Mizrahi, Mrs Leonard Lauder, Demi Moore: ninety seconds' conversation for the double A list, sixty for straight As.     `Stay close, but not too close. I may need you,' she hissed, motioning Kitty to follow her as she weaved between the tables.     `Saskia!' Someone wearing a white tuxedo was bearing down on her.     `Oh, Tom, it's you.' They embraced, and then, after a tiny pause, Saskia turned to acknowledge Tom Cruise's wife, Nicole Kidman.     ` Great new issue,' said Tom.     `Thanks,' said Saskia. `It was you guys who made the difference. That cover should do a million.' Then she added, `That's over here. We shift a further four hundred thousand a month in London now.'     ` Bazaar were spitting,' said Nicole. `We'd kind of promised that next time we did a double cover it'd be for them.'     `They're down the tubes anyway,' said Saskia. `Creatively, it's over. I'm sure your agent told you that. Sad. It's a great name. Was .'     Subsequently, when Kitty was asked to describe Saskia's mood on that fateful evening, all she could think to say was that she'd been on sparkling form, the toast of the gala, the toast of New York. How else could she describe her almost royal progress, the relentless exchange of compliments, as Saskia surfed on breakers of success across the dark Manhattan sea?     With her truculent, intelligent face, feral green eyes and air of perpetual alertness, Saskia reminded Kitty of a wild fox -- sleek, meretricious and predatory, alive with sexual energy.     Kitty had been surprised when Saskia included her, at the last possible moment, on the StreetSmart table. In the office, Saskia restricted her circle to a tight cabal of the most senior editors and contributors, from which Kitty was excluded. Now she realised her role tonight was to provide a discreet safety net for Saskia to bounce against in case she briefly missed her footing on the celebrity trapeze.     ` StreetSmart goes from strength to strength, I hear.'     Saskia was eyeball-to-eyeball with a grizzle-haired Australian. `What do you mean, "I hear"?' she snapped. `Don't you read it?'     `I guess not as often as I should. I've been travelling.'     `Well, I'll have my office courier it in future. Kitty,' she said, `remind me to have Mr Murdoch added to the comp list.'     Saskia was gliding ever closer to the stage, where a twenty-piece steel band was setting up for dancing. A New York Times profile had once described Saskia as `the eagle ray', for the way in which she seemed to float, weightlessly, on deep currents, soaring above those she wanted to avoid, and sweeping down on elegant, determined wings on those she wished to encounter. The Eagle Ray. The nickname stuck. Eagle Ray or Sting Ray. But never to her face.     `Kitty, there's a man over there I need to meet. The tall, baldheaded one.'     Aloof and well groomed, he looked European more than American, Kitty reckoned.     `Étienne Bercuse,' said Saskia. `Head of Bercuse SA, the luxury-goods group. That's Tranquilité, Gaia, Serène: all those French scents. And all those French vineyards. And the Lockerjock sportswear brands over here in the States. Mega important. Stick close now.'     `Good evening, Monsieur Bercuse. Saskia Thompson. Editor-in-Chief of StreetSmart . I want to thank you for advertising in my magazine.'     M. Bercuse bowed his head stiffly.     `Actually, I don't want to thank you,' said Saskia. `I've come over to complain. Your companies are screwing up.'     `In what way?' he asked.     `Budgets. Your media planners must be deaf and dumb. They don't seem to have clocked how big StreetSmart 's become. We're not getting our fair share of your ad-budgets.'     `I do not place advertising personally,' replied M. Bercuse, `but it is my understanding that we do support your magazine.'     `Yeah, but not enough,' said Saskia. `We're as big as Vogue and Vanity Fair now, but we get half the space. I tell you, it's outrageous.'     For a moment, Kitty thought the French businessman was going to walk off. His eyes had gone very cold. He had devoted the past fifteen years of his life to building up a global luxury-goods conglomerate, and a muscle in his cheek twitched irritably.     Then an extraordinary thing happened. Saskia looked him straight in the eye and smiled. It was a smile with the precision and intensity of a blowtorch. Kitty had seen it before in the office, though never directed at herself. It was the look that Saskia deployed on people who mattered, who could do things for her.     Kitty watched as Saskia took the Frenchman by the arm, and moved closer to him. `I do think, Monsieur Bercuse, that you should at least review the situation. We can do a lot for your company. May I take it that I can ring you tomorrow, at your hotel?'     `Er, at my office. After seven o'clock. But I make no promises.'     `We'll speak tomorrow at seven,' she said, letting his arm fall gently back to his side.     `Right,' said Saskia, when he was out of earshot, `let's not waste any more time. Help me find my driver, I'm going back to the apartment.'     They recrossed the ballroom, faster this time, Saskia acknowledging only the most prominent of the film stars, fashion designers and moguls who rose like phantoms in her path.     For an instant, as they neared the coat-check, Kitty felt Saskia hesitate, as though she was avoiding somebody ahead of her, among the large crowd jostling for their wraps.     They emerged into Park Avenue to find it was snowing. The first snow since Christmas. The street was double-parked with limousines, their drivers on the sidewalk muffled up against the February chill. A small crowd of photographers and rubberneckers was waiting behind a rope barrier, to catch a glimpse of departing celebrities.     `Miss Thompson?' A driver holding a name board was waiting by the open door of a Lincoln town car.     Saskia was about to climb inside when her social radar alerted her to activity behind her. Mr and Mrs John Kennedy Jr were emerging through the revolving doors.     `Wait,' Saskia told the driver.     Kitty watched as Saskia edged backwards, while somehow contriving to give the impression she was quite stationary, until she was positioned directly between the Kennedys. One shoulder pressed against the sleeve of John Kennedy's camel coat, the other partially blocked out Carolyn Bessette Kennedy's diaphanous dress.     Seconds later, the flashbulbs started.     For Kitty, it was a tableau that remained forever frozen in the strobe-like sheen of a hundred shutters.     Saskia Thompson with her short red bob and red Versace swingcoat, pressed against the arm of John Kennedy. The world's most famous magazine editor leaving a star-studded party at the Waldorf. That was the intended impression, and who could reasonably say that she hadn't pulled it off? In photographs, Saskia always looked absurdly young anyway, infinitely younger than her thirty-four years. Kennedy, in this much-syndicated last picture, looked far from unhappy at the sudden imposition of the girl in the couture coat.     The picture over, Saskia bolted, head down, across the sidewalk for the open door of her limo.     Kitty tried to peer inside to say good night, but the windows were darkly tinted and the car already edging out into the traffic of Park Avenue.     It was the last time that Kitty would see her editor alive.