Cover image for Chained! : a Sam Jones novel
Chained! : a Sam Jones novel
Henderson, Lauren, 1966-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Three Rivers Press, 2002.

Physical Description:
327 pages ; 21 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
X Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



When art chick--cum--sleuth Sam Jones groggily awakens to find her wrists chained to a ceiling plank in a cockroach-infested basement, she knows that her blackout, pounding headache, and body restraints are not the results of a drunken encounter with some S&M freak. No, she's been kidnapped in a case of mistaken identity, plucked right off a TV production set where she's been working as a stunt double on a hot new miniseries with her boyfriend, Hugo. And when a chum's boyfriend turns up dead, it's clear that the kidnappers have more than pranks on their minds. If she doesn't watch her back, she'll end up topping the endangered species list. Will Sam crack the case before the body count rises? Lauren Henderson fans will delight in this new adventure for the brassy, lovable, kick-ass detective in stilettos. And mystery lovers who crave an irreverent, murderously funny heroine will find themselves Sam Jones converts before they reach the thrilling conclusion of this uproarious romp through "tart noir" territory. Other Sam Jones novels available from Three Rivers Press: Black Rubber Dress, Freeze My Margarita, Strawberry Tattoo

Author Notes

Lauren Henderson was born & bred in London, where she worked as a journalist, a club bartender, & at other poorly paid jobs before going to Tuscany on holiday & never returning home.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Calling Henderson's fourth Sam Jones adventure the best in the series is high praise indeed--but well deserved. Although all of the previous stories featuring the sassy, irreverent British heroine have been superb, this one stands out as the funniest and best-plotted yet. Henderson takes on the controversial subject of animal rights, and--miraculously--neither side should be offended. London native Sam is taking a break from her career as an artist to work as a stunt double on a TV miniseries starring her actor boyfriend, Hugo. When lead actress Sarah Fossett, for whom Sam is doubling, makes callous remarks to the media about wearing fur, critics barrage her with hate mail and threats. A radical animal rights group tries to kidnap the actress but ends up with Sam--the wrong person in more ways than one. Feisty Sam soon teaches her captors a graphic lesson in why you don't mess around with Ms. Jones. With the diverse types of mammal violence that occur throughout the story, it might sound strange to call the novel hilarious, but readers will find themselves jumping from stomach-turning scenes of violence to raucous comedy without skipping a beat--a testament to Henderson's remarkable storytelling ability. Both herbivores and carnivores will enjoy sinking their teeth into this one. --Jenny McLarin

Publisher's Weekly Review

Sadistic violence jars in what is otherwise another good-natured romp, Henderson's (Strawberry Tattoo, etc.) fourth to feature New York art chick and sometime sleuth, Sam Jones. In the prologue, Sam, the victim of two of the most inept kidnappers in mystery lore, comes to, chained and handcuffed in a dank, roach-infested cellar. Flashback: Sam is working on a BBC show with a group of what used to be called "bright young things" whose talk is as trendy as it is interminable. (It's no surprise to find the author in her acknowledgments thanking the crew of a BBC TV shoot one suspects she had such a good time she preferred to write about that rather than tell her story.) Sam is a stand-in for a difficult young actress named Sarah, who has a knack for ticking people off. Sarah's latest enemies are a group of animal rights activists (read terrorists), who start sending her threats in the form of dead animals. Sam, apparently mistaken for Sarah, gets kidnapped. After escaping her captors, Sam returns to the bright young things for many more pages of chat. Eventually, she and her friends decide they ought to do something about those pesky kidnappers. The action speeds up to a clever twist ending, but the dearth of detection will disappoint anyone expecting a more traditional mystery. On the other hand, established Henderson fans, as well as the young and the hip, will find Sam's adventures a hoot. (Jan. 15) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Sexy sculptor/sleuth Samantha Jones (Freeze My Margarita) loves her new job as a stunt double for a BBC miniseries until someone kidnaps her on the set. After escaping, a very irked Sam vows to correct this case of mistaken identity especially after someone kills a friend's boyfriend. Irreverent, upbeat, and action-packed. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



1 "Kick the shit out of him! Nah, not like that! For fuck's sake, Chaz, put some sodding effort into it, why don't you?" "Like this, Gav?" Chaz redoubled his efforts. Gav gave a long, slow sigh and took another pull on his cigar. "Jesus, Chaz, you--are--fucking--crap--at this," he said wearily. "Look." With a single leisurely movement, he swung himself up from the battered old kitchen chair on which he had been sprawling. Slowly he strolled across the room to Chaz and the huddled body at his feet. It whimpered at his approach. "You're just going at it with no science," Gav continued. "Couldn't you hear him still bloody whining when you were giving it to him? He shouldn't be making a fucking sound, Chaz. Not a sound. He should be too fucking scared to open his tiny mouth. Right?" He aimed one precision kick at the foetally curled-up body. "Watch that. Did'ja see? Get it in the right place, he'll open up like a flower. Just for that moment. It's a work of art if you do it right." Chaz nodded eagerly. A few beads of sweat ran down his forehead, gleaming like glycerine against the darkness of his skin. He took a step forward. "Wait a minute," Gav said impatiently. "We got all day. Might as well take this window of opportunity to give you a training session. Here, hold this." He passed Chaz his cigar. Chaz took it as solemnly as if it were a communion wafer. "Now, watch where I'm putting them. Check it out." Circling his victim's body, he placed three kicks, spacing them out with deliberate sadism. In contrast to Chaz and the man on the ground, Gav was white, very light-skinned, with fair hair and a long, thin, haughty nose. He was tall and would have been handsome if not for the twist of his mouth and the coldness in his grey eyes. Pounding his foot into the unresisting flesh beneath him, he breathed evenly with the effort, as if he were working out, and when he came to a halt he stretched his arms back behind him and smiled at Chaz, a peculiarly unpleasant smile, his lips hardly moving. "Your turn," he said. "And Chaz?" He left a little pause. "Get it right this time." There was a pause. Then: "Cut!" came the director's voice. "Good. Print and check." The slump of relief from cast and crew was felt rather than heard. "Printing and checking," the first AD responded. "If the gate's clear we've done that one," said the director, leaning back in his chair. "Nice work, everyone." Movement whirred around the actors as people who had been standing still, watching the scene, or moving slowly with the camera, came to life. Gav promptly turned to squint around the wall o'lights. "Is there a glass of water anywhere around?" he said plaintively. A girl in layers of fleecy jackets bustled towards him with a brimming paper cup. He swigged down its contents. "Thank God for that," he said, relaxing. "Those cigars are foul. Hard to believe the BBC budget couldn't run to something slightly better. They taste like they were rolled on the withered old thighs of Panamanian mule-herders. Excuse me while I spit." "Don't worry about me, you cunt," said the kickee, slowly unwinding himself and standing up. "Don't bloody ask me how I am." "You're always fine, Tony," Gav said dismissively. "You have padding. Whereas I have already stubbed my toe twice in these over-tight, ridiculous boots." "I'll stub you, you cunt." Tony faked a punch at Gav's face. "Such paucity of vocabulary," the latter lamented. He dropped the banter for a moment. "You're all right, aren't you? I got you square where the X marks the spot." "Yeah, fine, mate. Your aim's getting better with practice." "Tell me we've made perfect," Gav pleaded, looking out beyond the lights. "Tell me that's it." "Yeah, the gate's clear," said the camera operator. "At ease, men." "OK, setting up for the next scene," said the first AD in the over-loud, officious voice which seemed to be the main requirement for assistant directors. "Let's not waste any time, please." "Thank fuck for that," the actor playing Chaz said fervently. "I'm sweating like a pig. Time for a shower." He flashed a smile at Gav. "Hey, Hugo, fancy coming to rub my back?" "Not even if you drop the soap, Keith." "Can't blame a boy for trying." One of the costume assistants appeared, camera in hand, and took photographs of each actor in turn for the files. This procedure was so automatic that they just stood still for a split second as the Polaroid flashed and whirred then kept on with whatever they had been doing before, like a freeze-frame. "I need some more revolting tea," Hugo announced. "And a good cleanse." Another girl wandered up, bearing two polystyrene cups. In her battered leather trousers and baggy sweater she looked at first glance like any of the other crew members busy around the set. Until you noticed her face, matt with foundation and powder, highlighted so that its planes caught and held the attention even more than they did naturally. She was the only woman present wearing make-up and its careful detailing gave her a half-mask, half-human appearance, striking but alien. "Hugo? Tea, darling," she said with the slightly exaggerated enunciation that immediately marked her out as an actress. "A ministering angel thou," Hugo said gratefully, accepting the cup. "Thank you, my little junkie lovebird. I need it desperately. Being Gav is so exhausting. All that thrusting the jaw forward menacingly--very hard on the mandibles," he complained, in his normal Brideshead intonation. This was just as fake as Gav's East End accent--Hugo had been brought up in relative poverty in Surbiton--but he had been drawling in Oxbridge for so long that it was second nature to him now. Still, he knew perfectly well that second nature wasn't first. Hugo was acutely aware of the difference between pose and reality. It made him a very good actor, if a bloody annoying boyfriend. "Well, I'll be off," Keith announced with what seemed like unnecessary emphasis. "See you guys tomorrow, I'm done for the day." "Lucky you," Hugo sighed. The little junkie lovebird ignored Keith's exit a shade too pointedly. "Long day," she commented to Hugo, sipping at her own cup. She fiddled absently with the scrunchie holding back her dark ponytail. "At least they've kept you busy." "I'm always busy," Hugo retorted. "I am the Anti-Hero. What have you been up to?" "Oh, messing around with power tools as usual. Practising. It really kills the time." "Have you got any better?" "I don't think so. But at least I look as if I know what I'm doing. Lurch was quite impressed for about ten minutes this morning." I nudged Lurch. He was sitting next to me on a folding chair tilted precariously back against the wall. "Were you impressed, you bastard?" I muttered. "Nah," he said loyally. "But she kept rabbiting on so I just said somefing to shut her up." I grunted. It was bad enough training up someone to be me without my sidekick going over to the enemy camp. "What does Sam think?" Hugo was asking the enemy camp. "Is she around? Sam?" he called round the corner of the set. "Where are you?" "You gonna answer him or what?" Lurch said to me, rocking back and forth on his chair as if he were imitating the dead mother in Psycho. His skin was at the apex of its regular breakout cycle at the moment; that, together with his general state of extreme emaciation, would have made him an ideal stand-in for a rotting corpse of either sex. "Yeah. I'm just not going to jump up when he calls my name straight away, OK? I have my dignity." "Got a chip on your shoulder, more like," Lurch muttered. I stuck my nose in the air and pretended not to hear. "Sam!" Hugo sounded petulant. It was time. I stood up and strolled over to him and Sarah. "Darling!" he said with gratifying enthusiasm. "How was I?" Lurch and I always got the giggles when we watched Hugo doing Gav. "It was really good," I said, suppressing a grin. "Um, very convincing." Hugo looked at me narrowly. "What?" he said, his tone suspicious. "No, nothing . . ." I was choking back the laughter. "You were great . . . especially when you were kicking him . . ." I would have managed to keep my cool if Hugo hadn't chosen precisely that moment to flick a pastel Sobranie out of his cigarette case. It was so not Gav. I started sniggering. "Always so supportive, my sweet," Hugo said coldly. "I feel so lucky to have you." "It must be funny for Sam, though," Sarah said sympathetically. "It's hard for non-actors." I resented this. "I met Hugo when he was playing Oberon," I pointed out. "Yes, but that wasn't so much of a stretch, was it?" Sarah observed. "I mean, the king of the fairies . . ." "Probably my career high point," Hugo said, taking a long drag on his cigarette. "Never will I be that perfectly type-cast again. I was pretty good," he added complacently, the memory of his reviews having restored his mood. Just then Joanne, the make-up girl responsible for Sarah, came towards our little group. She and her sidekick Julie were the only ones, apart from the actors, to wear make-up on set, and Joanne favoured a bright lipstick lurid enough to make me crave sunglasses on the occasional horrible morning I had had an early call. Everyone had made jokes about it in the early weeks but seemed to have settled down to it now. Oddly enough, considering her job, the colour didn't do anything for her. Or maybe that wasn't so unusual. I'd known fashion stylists who couldn't dress themselves to save their lives. "Sarah, could you come back to the trailer?" she said. "I need to have a go at you again while they're setting up." She looked at Hugo. "Your skin looks great, Hugo," she observed, with more coquetry in her tone than professional comment. "Are you still having those facials?" "Religiously. I bow down before the altar of Elizabeth Arden twice a week." "Mmn." Joanne reached up to stroke his cheek. "Lovely and soft." Sarah rolled her eyes at me. I appreciated the solidarity. Joanne was famously flirtatious; film sets were usually male-dominated, and Joanne made the most of the imbalance. The girls who worked as crew members dressed in the shapeless utility gear most suitable for humping stuff around or getting covered in paint. Joanne, with her lipstick and mascara and bottom-hugging jeans, was a fashion-plate by contrast, and she made it clear that she knew it. Any remotely attractive actor she considered her rightful prey. Hugo, however, would never succumb. He wouldn't have dreamed of going to bed with a girl whose lipstick didn't suit her complexion. With a last pat on his cheek, she flashed him a come-hither smile and turned back to Sarah. "God, why can't I be Sam," Sarah sighed. "Wearing a nice welding mask that covers my face. No muss, no fuss. All right, Joanne, off we go." She followed the latter out of the studio. I watched Sarah disappear through the door with my usual mixed feelings. She was perfectly amicable with me; I liked her, but there was something about her that kept me from being more than moderately friendly. It was understandable enough. Not only did she have a series of almost clinically explicit sex scenes with Hugo, but part of the character she played was based on me. Either would have been enough to set anyone's teeth on edge. "Those trousers look much better on you," Hugo said, sensing my ill humour. "They hang better on Sarah," I said crossly. "She's thin, darling, that's why. She is an ACT-ress. ACT-resses are contractually obliged to remove their bottoms by whatever means necessary. Come here and let me pinch yours to remind myself of what I'm missing whenever I have to get naked with her." I scowled to pretend I wasn't flattered. "God, you've been working out," Hugo said respectfully. "Hard as the Rock of Gibraltar, though much more scenic . . ." "Hugo?" called the director. "Can we have a rehearsal?" "Coming, coming." He stubbed out his cigarette. "Later," he said, giving my bottom one last grope. "I have to go and practise snarling ruthlessly." Hugo was playing the leader of a gang of criminals who stole luxury cars for shipment abroad; we had just witnessed him putting the boot into a contact at a dealer's who had failed to come through with the dodgy documents in time for the latest containerful of Mercs and BMWs to make the boat for Pakistan. Gav ran a tight ship. Until he was rear-ended at a service station (note the dramatic irony) by Sarah, playing a bohemian sculptor with a smack habit. Naturally, he promptly fell madly in love with her, and his well-organised life started to unravel before his eyes. It was more sophisticated than it sounded. And it was a six-part prime-time drama series for BBC1, called Driven, with Hugo as the anti-hero. His ego was the size of a barrage balloon at the moment. Bad analogy. Any minute now he'd decide he really could fly. "Don't you 'ave to go and make some sparks fly?" Lurch said, appearing next to me. "I hate when they make me do that," I complained. "It's so fake. Not to mention unsafe." Lurch shrugged. "TV, innit," he said, summing up the whole situation in a masterly couple of words. Lurch was sometimes capable of great profundity. I was Sarah's stunt double. Not in the Tony sense: I didn't need to pad myself up and get kicked by Hugo, fortunately. It would have sent the whole complex equilibrium of our relationship fatally off-kilter. Instead my role was confined to the tricky bits with the power tools. Lurch was giving Sarah a crash course in basic use so she knew how to hold them properly, but anything beyond that and, as Sarah had commented, it was me in the welding mask. Or with my back to the camera. We were roughly the same build, though I went in and out considerably more than she did; but you could hide a lot beneath baggy sweaters. And our hair was nearly identical. Though it was a coincidence that she happened to resemble me superficially, her character's profession was my fault, if by proxy. Hugo had been cast early on in script development, and at that stage his paramour had been a painter. The writer and producer had taken him out to dinner, cocked up their ears on hearing his girlfriend was a metal sculptor, and promptly altered the script accordingly. They thought it sounded more glamorous. Hah. I had never pointed out to them how much damage a junkie could do to herself with even a small selection of my equipment; burning yourself alive when your jeans caught on fire was presumably their idea of high style. Painting was a hell of a lot safer. You couldn't even get high on the fumes nowadays. Excerpted from Chained!: A Novel by Lauren Henderson All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.