A decade before her dazzling breakthrough novel, The Birth of Venus, Silver Dagger Award-winning author Sarah Dunant won critical acclaim for her Hannah Wolfe crime novels.
In Under My Skin, private investigator Hannah Wolfe's cushy new assignment takes her to the sumptuous Castle Dean health spa. While being plucked, crimped, steamed, and oiled, Hannah is ideally placed to probe some reported cases of sabotage -- fish in the Jacuzzi and steel nails in the massage heads. But spa owner Olivia Marchant has other problems besides sabotage. Someone is threatening her husband, Maurice, one of London's leading cosmetic surgeons and the man responsible for reconstructing many of the world's rich and famous. In a culture where no one wants to grow old and everyone seems to believe in the power of the knife, Hannah feels like an alien visitor. People will do anything in the name of beauty -- perhaps even commit murder.
At Castle Dean health spa in Berkshire, someone is out for revenge. Carp have been boiled in the spa's Jacuzzi, maggots mixed into the yogurt and acid blended into the massage cream. Initially reluctant to take the case, British PI Hannah Wolfe (last seen in Fatlands) steels herself to #200-a-day beauty treatments while she searches for both saboteur and motive. Hannah's quick resolution of the case convinces spa owner Olivia Marchant that Hannah should look into a series of threatening notes received by her husband, a renowned "aesthetic surgeon." While cross-checking Castle Dean clients with Dr. Marchant's patient list, Hannah is introduced to a world where body parts are enlarged, reduced and sculpted and self-image is created on the surgeon's table. But this pursuit of the ideal often leads to disappointment, which in turn, inspires lawsuits, suicide and, finally, murder. Hannah, with a self-described "attitude problem," is a witty, and competent PI, a little like Kinsey Milhone, but very much her own woman.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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July 04, 2004
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Excerpt from Under My Skin by Sarah Dunant
Prologue It was like a Cézanne painting: all those fabulous fleshy women, insolent, languid, apparently complicit in the painter's gaze. There were six or eight of them, all shapes and sizes, some stretched out on benches, others propped against tiled walls, stomach muscles relaxed with small sausage rolls of fat pulling down into their pubic hair. A fog of steam was turning to water around them, dribbling down their skin onto the cream-colored tiles. One of them, a particularly handsome figure with round, heavy breasts and big thighs, lifted her hand slowly, slicking back damp hair and letting her head fall back with a sigh that mingled into a hiss of steam. It was a gesture of extreme languor, reminiscent of a kind of erotic exhaustion. Too hot to speak, too hot to think. It made me ache to join her.No doubt about it. This was one case where it would be morally acceptable for a girl to take off her clothes. I closed the small viewing grill and turned to the woman by my side. "I'd better get changed, don't you think?" Copyright copy; 1995 by Sarah Dunant