Book review: Breaking Dead by Corrie Jackson

Fashion week turns to murder week in an exciting debut crime thriller from an author who has swapped glamour for grit.
Breaking Dead byCorrie JacksonBreaking Dead byCorrie Jackson
Breaking Dead byCorrie Jackson

Breaking Dead is the first book in a dark, powerful and enthralling series featuring young newspaper reporter Sophie Kent and comes from the pen of journalist Corrie Jackson whose career credits include Harper’s Bazaar, the Daily Mail, Grazia and Glamour.

And there is true style, flair and finesse in this gripping opener which sees fearless, feisty Sophie uncovering corruption, greed, drugs and deadly deeds in the dark underbelly of the high stakes fashion industry.

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At the opening of London Fashion Week, reporter Sophie Kent from the London Herald is back at work but still emotionally fragile and with her personal life in chaos after the death of her beloved younger brother Tommy in tragic circumstances.

Whilst looking for possible witnesses in a rundown apartment block after the axe murder of a teenage boy nearby, Sophie, who always likes to take ‘a different tack’ to the rest of the press pack, meets young Russian model Natalia Kotova.

Natalia, her face and wrists covered in ugly bruises, appears scared and haunted, and Sophie, sensing a story and instinctively guessing that she has dark, hidden secrets, arranges to meet her again.

But a week later the teenage model, whose last words to Sophie were that no one could help her, is found brutally murdered and mutilated in a hotel room in London. Eaten away by guilt that she failed to save the girl, Sophie is determined to seek out the truth behind her death.

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With a nod and a wink from Detective Chief Inspector Sam Durand, a razor-sharp policeman with ‘an uncanny knack for reading people,’ Sophie starts to cut through the fashion industry’s glittering surface to expose a toxic underworld of drugs, prostitution, blackmail and secrets.

But, still raw with grief for her dead brother, Sophie’s personal life threatens to derail everything. Battling her demons and her wealthy dysfunctional family, Sophie goes head to head with a sadistic killer, a killer who is only just getting started…

Jackson hits the ground not just running, but sprinting in a fast-paced, atmospheric story that thrusts a daring and cynical but endearingly flawed and vulnerable journalist into the deep end of the nasty, murky world of catwalk couture.

But what makes this debut so impressive is the stunning authenticity of the characters, the clever, fast-paced plot and Jackson’s understanding of the grim realities of working in both the hard-nosed fashion industry and amidst the endless tensions and demands of a busy newspaper.

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Jackson delivers her compelling, disturbing and unflinching thriller with a keen eye for murder and the macabre but without permitting her ambitious but seductive star reporter to lose her sensitivity to the viciousness of crime or the suffering of victims.

Brimming with angst, anger, anguish and action, this is just the start of what promises to be an enthralling new crime series…

(twenty7, paperback, £7.99)