Book of the week: Maestra by LS Hilton
Gone Girl meets Fifty Shades Of Grey in this hot-selling erotic thriller
CliffsNotes: ‘The most shocking thriller you’ll read this year’ is the publisher pitch for the first part of LS Hilton’s trilogy. From the novel’s rapid climb on bestseller lists around the world, this isn’t reckless overselling, either. Judith Rashleigh, Maestra’s ambitious, intemperate heroine straddles two realities; her day job keeps her at the unglamorous end of a leading London auction house, and by night, she plays hostess at an upscale champagne bar and revels in the company of wealthy men. Fired for prying into an art scandal, Rashleigh decides to get away with her client on a debauched European holiday. Murder, graphic sex and a volley of twists follow, making this high-speed thriller richly rewarding.
Get a taste: Judith ponders the conflicting social hierarchies at her two jobs:
At my day job, in Prince Street, there were those million tiny codes. Anyone’s placement on the social scale could be calibrated to the nth degree at a single glance, and learning the rules was a lot more difficult than identifying paintings, because the whole point of those rules was that if you were on the inside, you never had to be told. Those hours of carefully teaching myself how to speak and how to walk might have passed the test with most people— Leanne, for instance, seemed bemused and grudgingly impressed by my transformation—but somewhere inside the House was a hidden casket of Alice in Wonderland keys that I would never possess, keys that unlocked ever tinier gardens whose walls were all the more impregnable because they were invisible. At the Gstaad, though, I was the token “toff,” and the girls, if they thought about it at all, believed there was no distinction between the soccer players’ girlfriends and the superannuated debutantes who occupied adjoining pages in OK! magazine. Of course, in a deeper sense they would have been right.
Author 101: You wouldn’t imagine Lisa Hilton’s body of work to include a sexy potboiler. The Oxford graduate is an art journalist, historian and academician based in London, and has previously authored royal biographies, including of Queen Elizabeth I, and historical fiction. The 41-year-old wrote about adultery, failed marriages and “being a recovering cheater” in a piece for The Guardian.
Fun fact: Sony has snapped up rights for the film adaptation of Maestra, which will be produced by former studio head Amy Pascal.
Similar reads: Just Fall by Nina Sadowsky; The Widow by Fiona Barton; Fool Me Once by Harlen Coben
Maestra (Bloomsbury India) is out now