Author L.S. Hilton last published a historical novel set in 13th-century England during the reign of King John and is known as an art historian and biographer. Her sexy and twisty new thriller, Maestra, the first of a trilogy, is set in the world of dealing in fine art, the wealthy and fake identities.
And the protagonist, Judith Rashleigh, who has been compared to the infamous Tom Ripley, Amy Dunne and Lisbeth Salander, is a ruthless (and fashionable) doozy.
“It seemed to me that there are a set of rules about what women can and can’t do in fiction,” Hilton says in press materials. “For example, sexual liberation is often ‘permitted’ only as a correlative of trauma. I was also surprised by the fact that, while crime fiction frequently perpetrates the most appalling horrors on women’s bodies, a woman who unapologetically enjoys her own physicality is seen as transgressive. I also think that women in fiction are constricted by a perceived need for emotional reaction: No one ever asks James Bond how he feels about anything.”
Judith worked hard to rise out of poverty, ditching her Liverpool accent, learning French, traveling throughout Europe and working at one of the top art auction houses in London, albeit in an entry-level job. Her job moonlighting in a champagne bar leads her to the French Riviera, where she’s forced to shed her identity and jet set among the rich and famous, leaving a trail of mayhem behind her. Warning: There are graphic sex scenes.
The novel, already a bestseller in the United Kingdom, has been named one of the Wall Street Journal’s Five Killer Books of 2016 and a Publisher’s Marketplace Buzz Book for spring/summer. And Sony has bought the film rights.
- By L.S. Hilton
- G.P. Putnam’s Sons, $27
- Audio: Penguin Audio, $40; narrated by actress Emilia Fox.