Liza Cody, Gimme More (2000)

I seem to rant all the time about poor art cover choice, but truly the ugly, garish lips nearly deterred me from reading this book, which is the ultimate (if contrary) proof of the cover art influence over me as a reader.

Fortunately I had read and enjoyed Cody before, with her Anna Lee PI mysteries, and so I knew that I had to dive into the pages and that there was more to it that a female mouth screaming with an outrageous lipstick color.

I’m so glad I did, because Gimme More is a thriller full of great characters and unexpected twists and turns, which will you make you think again about rock music, even if (I daresay especially if) it isn’t your favorite music style. I don’t pretend to be a rock fan, I’m very ignorant of the group names and song lyrics, because I was born too late at the heyday of the most famous groups. But I know something about the music industry for having been quite close to it decades ago: it is as much a question of egos and money as it is a question of talent.

Cody’s heroin, Birdie, is a survivor, a 40-something ex-legend of the rock stage, ex-wild child of the 1970s, widow of the most successful rock-star of their time. When the whirlwind of stardom turned into an excess of drugs, alcohol, and a fatal accident, the fans turned against her and she has had a reputation for being a cold-blooded, scheming bitch ever since. This is no easy past to live with, especially as Birdie has inherited no money. But persistent claims of some unreleased music drive music moguls and producers back to her, eager to sweet-talk her into a nice deal. They’ve always underestimated her intelligence, and they’re in for a tough negotiation.

I knew from Lucky Dip and Anna Lee that Cody was good at creating strong, down-to-earth heroines, but Birdie is even better. She (of course) evokes Marianne Faithful and Courtney Love, but she is no cliché. She has her own voice and contradictions, at times cynical, fearful, strong or wickedly manipulative, but always convincing. The other side of the book is the excellent plotting and the sobering perspective Cody gives on the music business, where shady dealers rip talented musicians off.

After Jesse Kellerman and his investigation into the contemporary art business, here’s another brilliant example of a corpse-less art-related thriller!

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