Simon & Schuster, £18.99. Order for £17.09 (free p&p) from the Independent Bookshop: 08430 600 030
Poor Little Bitch Girl, By Jackie Collins
When Jackie Collins' debut novel was published in 1968, the romance writer Barbara Cartland branded it "nasty, filthy and disgusting". The World Is Full of Married Men delved into the sexually charged affairs of beautiful young things who sashayed, swaggered and slept their way around the Hollywood hills. Four decades and 26 bestsellers later, readers may well wonder if, at 72, Collins still has what it takes to be nasty, filthy and disgusting.
Turn to the first page of Poor Little Bitch Girl and you find that age has not mellowed nor sanitised her prose: "Belle Svetlana surveyed her nude image in a full-length mirror, readying herself for a $30,000-an-hour sexual encounter with the 15-year-old son of an Arab oil tycoon." Whether you read the book with a straight face or enjoy its tongue-in-cheek subtext, Collins remains mistress of her own genre of Hollywood bonkbuster-cum-crime thriller.
In her latest yarn the reader is returned to the Santangelos, whose family tree began with Gino (the criminal son of Italian migrants) in the 1981 novel Chances and spawned a series. Belle Svetlana turns out to be an sobriquet for Annabelle Maestro, the alienated daughter of A-list actors whose mammoth egos run her out of Tinseltown until she is forced back when her mother is found dead. Denver Jones, a defence lawyer and surf-tanned sexual adventurer, is parachuted in to solve the crime.
Like Harold Robbins, Collins makes little attempt at realism beyond passing references to celebrity crimes and misdemeanours – Phil Spector, O J Simpson – and renegade starlets – Britney, Lindsay, even Amy Winehouse. At times her characters could have stepped out of Dynasty, but perhaps Collins is suggesting that the lives of the super-rich are frozen in a perpetual state of big-haired conspicuous consumption.
And then there are Collins' alpha-females. Wilful, libidinous and wonderfully predatory, they lack the urban neurosis of Candace Bushnell's New York clique, or the self-loathing babblings of Bridget Jones. Barbara Cartland would still be scandalised.
Arts & Ents blogs
Owen Howells is a DJ/producer who grew up in Australia but was born in the UK. He came back to the U...
Fancy seeing a play about serial killers? How about inviting a funeral director into your home for a...
There are a good many moments in the second episode of this psychological thriller that deserve refl...
Coronation Street triumphs over EastEnders at British Soap Awards 2013
The Freemasons' Code: Dan Brown reveals the message that told him the door to the lodge is open
Archaeologists uncover nearly 5,000 cave paintings in Burgos, Mexico
Lord of the Sings: Sir Christopher Lee, 91, to release heavy metal album
Film review: The Hangover Part III (15)
- 1 Pope Francis: Being an atheist is alright as long as you do good
- 2 Man and woman arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to murder victim of Woolwich machete attack, named as Drummer Lee Rigby
- 3 'Sickening, deluded and unforgivable': Horrific attack brings terror to London’s streets
- 4 Archaeologists uncover nearly 5,000 cave paintings in Burgos, Mexico
- 5 Woolwich attack: The EDL will seek to exploit this evil crime for their own evil ends
BMF is the UK’s biggest and best loved outdoor fitness classes
Find out what The Independent's resident travel expert has to say about one of the most beautiful small cities in the world
Nook is donating eReaders to volunteers at high-need schools and participating in exclusive events throughout the campaign.
Get the latest on The Evening Standard's campaign to get London's children reading.
Win anything from gadgets to five-star holidays on our competitions and offers page.