By Annalena McAfee
(Vintage, Paperback, 9780345803887, 304pp.)
Publication Date: January 8, 2013
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A deft and impressive debut novel—a dark hyper-comedy—set in London in the late 1990s during the height of the newspaper wars just before the dot-com tidal wave.
Honor Tait, a legendary prize-winning war correspondent (called in her day "The Newsroom Dietrich" because of her luminescent beauty) is now in her eighties and looking back at a career that saw her on the front lines and in the foxholes of every major theater of war in the twentieth century. Tamara Sim, a young feature writer who compiles lists (what's in/what's out, ten best/ten worst) for a newspaper gossip magazine, is sent to interview the venerated "doyenne of British journalists" for a well-respected publication. What starts out as a tango of wills and egos turns into a high-stakes game of cat and mouse as secrets are revealed, lies unearthed, and one paper plays off the other in a ruthless, desperate grab for sensation and circulation.