It was not impossible for a thirty-seven-year-old woman to starve to death in Manhattan, less than a mile from the nearest Whole Foods, though it was unusual.

When the NYPD opened the locked workroom at the offices of RAGE Fashion Book, where Hillary Whitney’s body lay dead on the floor, most of the officers placed their bets on a cocaine overdose. The still-perfect hair and makeup, the bleach-white Dior pumps, the long, manicured red nails; it could all have been part of one of the magazine’s photo shoots, if not for the way her limbs sprang—unnatural, akimbo—from her mint-colored dress. It was the officers’ collective experience that women who died at work in clothing this expensive were partying themselves into eternity. 

Yes, cocaine was a solid bet, but still: one optimist had chosen aneurysm. “She looked like a nice girl,” he’d said, “and her skin was in great shape.” Another risk-taker bet meningitis, “because you never know.”

Yet, in the end, Carol, Midtown South’s senior secretary and most enthusiastic bookmaker, was the sole profiteer: the coroner’s autopsy reported that Hillary Edith Whitney had experienced a fatal coronary as the end-stage event of starvation, which no one had thought to bet on. In a zip code where the average net worth topped a million dollars, starvation hadn’t been recorded as a cause of death for an able-bodied woman under sixty since the previous century.

The unmistakable signs of a lifetime of disordered eating, chronic malnutrition, and various muscle tears and strains from an intense daily exercise regimen—along with a clean standard toxicity screen—buttressed the coroner’s conclusion, and so the precinct’s detectives saw no reason to dispute his theory that with the right combination of stress and a diet of alkaline-only green juices, a fatal heart attack could’ve happened anytime.

Clues, too, were in short supply. The only things discovered in the workroom with her were one half-empty juice bottle, an oversized and overturned box filled with thirteen yards of “luxury” ribbon, a pile of blank index cards, and a pen. It appeared she’d suffered the heart attack before she had the opportunity to write anything down. An attorney for Cooper House, RAGE Fashion Book’s publisher, confirmed that Hillary Whitney was working on a shoot involving ribbon. He helpfully offered that she was probably taking notes on the texture and provenance, which he insisted was a “low-stress” activity—though Cooper’s reputation as a high-stakes workplace preceded his remarks, but that in and of itself wasn’t technically a crime—and so, the case was closed in eleven days.

Eventually, like all things do, the death of Hillary Edith Whitney faded out of public consciousness.

Two months later the odors of new paint and new carpet were almost gone from the workroom where she’d died. The funeral was long over, her ashes scattered in Old House Pond on Martha’s Vineyard, when her boyfriend went back to his wife and her parents stopped crying first thing in the morning. Her estate was processed, her apartment was put on the market, and an interim fashion director was hired to replace her. It seemed to everyone that the ripple of her death had run its course.

Naturally, they were wrong.


Every weekday morning, as the sun rose above Sixth Avenue, a peerless crop of women—frames poised, behavior polished, networks connected, and bodies generally buffed to a high sheen—were herded by the cattle prod of their own ambition to one particular building. They streamed as if by magic from all over Manhattan and Brooklyn, through streets and subways teeming with sweaty crowds and heavy traffic, to work at Cooper House, the only remaining major magazine publisher in New York.

Some, like Bess Bonner, a twenty-eight-year-old associate editor at RAGE Fashion Book, arrived earlier than others. Though her colleagues frequently staggered in around noon after long nights spent drinking fistfuls of sponsored celebrity vodka in yet another chartered barge or pop-up school bus, never Bess, who took pride in being punctual. Monday through Friday she stuck to the same routine: First, she walked her bike, a large Dutch commuter, through the West Village streets to pick up her coffee at Joe. Second, she stood on the sidewalk and drank half the cup, no matter the weather; finally, she took diligent mental notes on the outfits of pedestrians who were, like her, freshly pressed to meet the promise of the day.

One Monday in July, in attire that was stylish but functional (trousers clipped back with midnight-blue leather bands, her buttery navy kid-leather backpack stuffed in an orange milk crate affixed firmly to the back with neon cable ties, and a waterproof oilcloth bag that held an emergency poncho tucked beneath her seat), Bess drank her coffee, took her notes, and hopped on her bike, pedaling toward Cooper. After a few minutes of glorious, uninterrupted speed through Chelsea, a rush of adrenaline kicked in, and she smiled; that final mile of her morning commute both boosted her mood and set the tone for the long day ahead, working at the magazine she’d worshipped her entire life.

Today, that work meant sorting bracelets into velvet trays.

She hung a left on Thirty-Ninth Street, crossed Broadway, and pulled smoothly into the Cooper garage. Gina, the usual attendant, took her bicycle and wheeled it into the rectangle of her personal parking spot, a privilege for full-time employees, as Bess took off her helmet and shook out her tangled mess of dark blonde curls.

Shouldering her backpack, she walked up to the aluminum post outside the service elevator and waved her phone in front of it. A large blinking F appeared briefly on a previously invisible screen. Ten seconds later, the F disappeared and the post became a mere metal column once more.

Bess walked into the elevator and examined herself in its mirrored walls. Not too bad, she thought, looking down at her electric-blue Pappagallo flats for rips, tears, or smudges, smoothing her ankle-length silk tuxedo trousers, and tucking her deliberately threadbare men’s white V-neck into the side of the waistband. Her jewelry today was simple and bright: a stack of rose-gold pyramid-stud bracelets from Hermès covered one wrist, and a pair of dangling yellow-gold earrings—from the Egyptian section of the gift shop at the Met, purchased long ago with her fifth-grade allowance—hung casually from her ears.

When the elevator stopped on the forty-sixth floor, Bess walked into the main entrance of RAGE’s offices. The reception area still gave her a thrill every time she entered: RAGE’s front lobby walls were made of a creamy-white marble, shot through with jagged bolts of mint and lavender, seamlessly paneled between a polished black concrete ceiling and floor. RAGE Fashion Book was etched in three-foot platinum-leafed letters across the wall opposite the elevator bank.

The front “desk” was a sculpture by the architect Maya Lin, made of stacked gradient disks of a now-extinct ash tree suspended on four thin wires. There was a silver rotary telephone in place of a receptionist, as Margot Villiers, RAGE’s editor in chief, had decided long ago that the first face of RAGE should never, ever, be a person—just this empty, Lynchian room with a single telephone, through which you could dial a two-digit extension for any of the seventy-five women in the office.

There were no obvious doors save for the elevators. Bess crossed the floor and waved her phone again, this time in front of a brass plate set into the far-left corner of the back wall. The north and south walls of the lobby were made of marble so thin that the light shone through them, and when prompted by an authorized phone like Bess’s they split down the middle, slid back on tracks, and functioned as automatic doors. Margot called them the Beinecke doors, after the rare books library at Yale, walled in the same tissue-thin rock.

The walls slid away, revealing the magazine’s offices—open plan, like a newsroom. Bess made a beeline through the custom black Lucite cubicles for the southwest corner. Her own cube was stacked high with boxes, jewelry, invitations, gift bags, flowers, and a precariously perched laptop, on which she recorded who sent what object where and whether or not it was featured in a shoot. She tossed her backpack behind her chair and set her phone on top of the contact charging dock wedged into the corner of her desk.

Today, a Monday, was an accessories day for Bess. A total of 342 bracelets had been sent in the weeks before—solicited and unsolicited—and she had to account for each one in a spreadsheet, giving it a genre, a color-coded price point, a possible assignment for any of the upcoming shoots scheduled in the next five months, and then, finally, handwrite a thank-you note to the jeweler on RAGE stationery before putting the bracelet in one of the velvet trays that would eventually wind up in the office of Catherine Ono, her boss, close friend, and senior editor at RAGE. She sighed, thinking, I need more coffee for this. Bess walked over to a vintage Coca-Cola dispenser, popped in a quarter, and pulled out a squat, sweating black bottle of cold-pressed coffee. After diluting one-third of the bottle in a glass of ice water, she walked back to her desk and set her phone to silent. It was time to get to work.

Bracelet, rose gold, hinged band, with raised white enamel dots.
Very Julianne Moore in A Single Man.
Price point: Green ($5,000+).
Possible shoots: Day Drinking, January issue; Astronauts’ Wives, December issue; or Dotty for It, the Sylvia-Plath-in-a-mental-hospital-themed feature for the October issue, shooting in three weeks.

Bangle, lavender Lucite and bronze, laser-cut etchings à la Stargate.
Pat Cleveland goes to a garden party in 2035.
Price point: Mint ($10,000+).
Possible shoots: FUTURAFRIQUE, November issue; Gone Yachting (A Gowanus Story), October issue.

Bracelet, chartreuse 1⁄2-inch-diam. rope and platinum Monopoly playing pieces.
Rich children.
Price point: Yellow ($15,000+).
Possible shoots: Tea Party All Night: A Celebration of Suri Cruise, October issue; 1% (and Rising!), December issue.

Bess was so focused that she hardly noticed the office filling up around her when the clock struck eleven o’clock. The Beinecke doors parted over and over as RAGE staffers spilled onto 46, their near-uniform of summer silks in post-neon colors filling the office with little glowing blocks of color and activity as they poured into their Lucite cubes. That summer, the women of RAGE favored filmy sundresses with modish hems and lurid accessories; the shorter girls stomped around in oversized sandals, soles heavy and dense, while the taller ones, like Bess, leaned toward slipper-style flats. Makeup was out this year, so no one wore any. Skin care was in. The only embellishment Bess had on her face was a thick set of individually applied mink lashes that cost $900 per application, giving her the look of a soft-focus Twiggy.

Intern Molly eventually whirled in on a pair of six-inch leopard-print calf-hair pumps, their two-inch baby-blue platforms trimmed in red and gold. Her royal blue minidress had an extended trompe l’oeil collar in black, and her pile of hair was tinted in shades of the same baby blue as the platforms on her pumps.

“HiBessI’mSoSorryI’mLateIMissedTheTrainAndThereWereNo Cabs,” blurted Molly as she hung her Céline handbag—this season’s, Bess noticed—from a hook on the side of Bess’s cube.

“That’s fine, Molly,” Bess replied kindly. “You can stay a bit later. Cat and I have to leave early. We’ll get a to-do list to you this afternoon. For now, please finish addressing those envelopes from last week.”

Molly visibly relaxed. Her hairstyle—an intricate series of plaits that ended in an extension-boosted fishtail—must have taken at least two hours at Barrett’s Braid Bar, and she was grateful that Bess didn’t comment on it. Bess knows that it’s more important to look right and be a little late, Molly thought, than to be ugly and be on time. This was a certainty that Molly would carry with her throughout her entire life.

Bess, indeed, had no intention of embarrassing Molly or anyone else, under any circumstance. The middle child of four, Bess adjusted cheerfully to the people around her, and going out of her way to make others more comfortable made Bess more comfortable in turn; she was the rare Manhattan native who grew sweeter with each passing year instead of more calcified. Still, it was true that some part of her natural ease came from her family’s astonishing resources, a fact she rarely, if ever, admitted. Bess instead devoted a significant amount of time each day to calculating the exact ratio of basic to bitch—placing the threadbare cotton T-shirt, for example, next to the Hermès bangles—in a misguided attempt to tone down the gleam of her family’s wealth.

After studying peace and world security at Hampshire College, she’d once intended to join the State Department, but her first job out of school—a paid internship at the teen magazine Filly, another Cooper title—set her on a different path. Bess had worked her way up to senior editor at Filly before taking a title cut two years earlier to work at the far more prestigious RAGE Fashion Book, where, like everyone else, she was more than overqualified for the general responsibilities of her position.

But Bess didn’t mind, for RAGE was so much more than just a magazine: it was the most successful women’s title in the history of print publishing. Distributed in thirty-four countries worldwide through seventeen international editions, with four million domestic subscribers, it was the gold standard for women’s lifestyle publications, print or digital, and held a moral high ground that few others could claim: all the apparel featured in RAGE was manufactured by living-wage workers. Yet it was as high-fashion as any quixotic editorial in W or Harper’s Bazaar had ever been—before their parent companies had gone bankrupt, anyway.

Bess came to the office every day with a serious commitment to the work they did there, no matter how trivial, but she didn’t expect everyone else to have the same energy; certainly not an unpaid intern like Molly, so she let the girl’s lateness slide, just as she would the next day, and the day after that.

Besides, after what happened with Hillary, everyone in this office could use a little slack.

Catherine Ono opened her eyes. Fuck, she thought. Fuck you, morning. She fumbled around in her sheets until she found her phone and held down a button.

“SIRI, WHAT TIME IS IT?” Cat asked, unable to read the clock until she had her contacts in.

“It’s 10:25 a.m.,” Siri replied.

Cat bolted out of bed. She looked around her apartment—an unrenovated loft off the Morgan Avenue stop in Bushwick—and scanned the room for a pack of cigarettes. A yellow box came into focus nearby. She grabbed the pack off the nightstand, popped one in her mouth, and pulled her hair back into a loose ponytail in a lame attempt to keep the smoke out of her hair. An old book of matches from the long-defunct Mars Bar was tangled in her sheets and she lit the cigarette, then strode quickly across the cold, dirty floor to the bathroom. She set the cigarette in an ashtray, spritzed her face and arms with a large spray bottle marked “CARIBBEAN SEA WATER DO NOT DRINK” in permanent marker, squirted more in her hair, grabbed the cigarette again, took a deep drag, then rooted around in a jar on the sink for a black liquid eyeliner to distract from the bags under her eyes. Two quick swipes later, she grabbed a pair of thin, gold-framed vintage Oliver Peoples eyeglasses from a selection of spectacles on a shelf she’d installed next to her bathroom vanity. She peed, brushed her teeth, and applied deodorant before springing out of the bathroom and diving into her closet.

Cat’s closet was the only part of her apartment that was actually a built-out room with walls. She grabbed two black silk tank tops, a pair of perforated black lambskin pre-Galliano Margiela leggings, her black leather cowboy boots, and a set of large, ultra-oxidized heavy bronze bracelets from Nigeria that always left her with little bruises. She pulled a large leather tray off the closet’s top shelf and fished a white grosgrain ribbon out of it, which she wove into her hair in a plait. After snaking into her clothes, she stubbed out her cigarette and sprayed herself down with an industrial-strength bottle of Febreze stolen from the maid’s cart at The Standard Hotel. Cat had tried electronic cigarettes for a few years, just like everyone else, but after people everywhere had gone bald overnight in an epidemic of vape-related hair loss, she’d decided it was safer to stick with regular old carcinogens and gone right back to American Spirits. So had millions of other ex-smokers, and now, in a regulatory mea culpa, cigarette prices were almost reasonable again.

Finally, she grabbed the paperback copy of Welcome to the Desert of the Real that she was halfway through and shoved it, along with her cigarettes, into a black leather Alexander Wang shopper with pointed rose-gold feet on each corner.

“Cigarettes, phone, wallet, metro card, keys,” she said out loud as she reached the door, a recitation she made every time she left the house. Check check check check check: all still in her handbag from the night before. She shut the door, locked the heavy dead bolt, and booked it for the subway.

At 12:45, Cat finally stood on the four-story showboat main escalator. Huge, nearly prehistoric ferns salvaged from a Cooper scion’s overgrown Great Neck mansion surrounded her in a humid wall, and she tried not to sweat as she rode up to the elevator bank. Although the $112 million lobby was meant to inspire the legions of employees tasked with channeling the zeitgeist each month, it just reminded Cat of the infinite escalators in London tube stations, where the urge to slide down the center railing was almost overwhelming. Someday, she thought, letting her fingers drag off the edge of the rubber banister. When I quit this place in a blaze of glory.

But today, the very thought of sliding made Cat dizzy. Late. Sweaty. Tired. Today is going to be r-u-f-f ruff, she thought. She looked down and took a long, thirsty gulp of her iced Trenta Red Eye from the Starbucks around the corner, then fished an Adderall out of her purse’s side pocket, broke off half into a sugary orange chunk, and crunched it between her teeth. Please kick in soon, she thought.

“Kit-Oh!” yelled out a Sloaney voice behind her. Boots clomped up the escalator steps ten yards below, and a tousled head of expertly colored and blown-out caramel-blonde hair ascended in double time. Cat hoped it looked like she was coming back from coffee and not showing up two and a half hours late to work, for the immaculate hair and boots belonged to Whig Beaton Molton-Mauve Lucas, an oft-photographed socialite, clotheshorse, and twice-divorced mother of two, known simply as Lou, who was a temporary fill-in for Cat’s now-dead boss and close friend, Hillary. Among other affectations, like dropping most vowels and willfully mispronouncing even her own surname, Lou thought calling Catherine Ono “Kit-Oh” was hilarious. Cat disagreed.

It was their second month working together, and while Cat was doing her best to be friendly, she was still trying to figure out what she and Lou had in common. So far, it was just tequila— but in some cultures that was plenty to forge a lasting work relationship. When Lou got within a foot, Cat smelled faint traces of jasmine and honeysuckle, a subtle smell that dozens of women in the RAGE office had adopted over the past few years. Lou is trying to fit in every way she can, Cat realized, and she suddenly felt appreciative of the gesture, however small.

“Hi, Lou. Love your color,” Cat complimented her, pointing to Lou’s hair.

“Oh thaaaaank you!” Lou smiled. “Jane has been in the sun all summer and she has such amazing color, we just chopped off a lock of it and brought it in to Tricomi.”

“That’s brilliant, Lou. If she ever wants to look like Mia Farrow, you could sell the whole mop to Rusk and make a custom color blend . . . just think: Lucas Blond Balayage.”

Cat wasn’t joking. She’d seen the Lucas daughters the week be- fore when their nanny brought them to visit the offices, and their perfectly healthy little-girl hair—seasoned only by the sun from sailing in Cap d’Antibes, Montauk, and the Dutch Antilles with their father—was a tone that Cat was sure every old bag of bones in New York would pay through their hollowed-out noses for.

Lou roared, a big, horsey Lou-laugh. Whenever she laughed, spoke, or really made any kind of noise with her mouth, it was as though her jaw nearly detached from her face and became a separate object. It was all Cat could do not to stare openly at Lou’s enormous, perfectly capped white teeth as her words boomed out through them.

“We’ll just have to pray one of them goes through a Sinéad period before hitting puberty. God, Kit-Oh, you must be broiling in those leggings.”

Cat looked down. Oh—right. In her hangover rush, her body confused by the industrial air conditioner in the loft, she’d worn leather leggings in July.

“Oh, no, I’m fine, Lou—they’ve got tiny holes for air,” she said.

“So is Margot in yet?” Lou asked nervously as they stepped into the elevator, referring to RAGE’s venerable editor in chief.

Cat desperately tried to recall if Margot was even in town that day. “I feel like she’s in Milan for the rest of the week, but let’s check with Bess—she’s the only one who actually listens to Paula, anyway.”

Paula Booth had worked for Margot Villiers for nearly thirty years. They ran RAGE together with a pair of iron fists. Though it was Paula’s title, “Assistant” was hardly her job description; in truth, she was somewhere between a deputy and a surrogate. She had two assistants of her own and a personal secretary but, for some reason unknown to Cat, never had an editorial title tacked before her name on the masthead. Yet Paula led each Tuesday’s big edit meeting where she often ran through Margot’s schedule toward the end, when Cat usually had stopped paying attention altogether. Bess tended to write down everything Paula said, because the sixty-year-old—known for always wearing black, never smiling, being semipermanently attached to the telephone, and having a short temper—didn’t like repeating herself ever.

Lou, as a temp, a newcomer, and a genuine publishing outsider, was still terrified of both Margot and Paula. A socialite and friend of Hillary’s who had been on the pages of RAGE dozens of times, she’d been recruited—rather quickly—into Hillary’s job after the accident because of her experience as a subject in magazines, not as a writer or an editor.

At Hillary’s funeral, a photographer for The New York Times had taken a photo of Lou as she gave her condolences to Margot and featured it on the cover of the Styles section’s tribute to Hillary. Two days later, Paula and Margot offered Lou the job. Cooper had needed to hire someone who understood, instinctively, what RAGE’s customers would covet, they’d explained, and Lou in turn thought it might be glamorous to work—especially at a job that so many people would have killed for. They’d settled on an interim contract position naming Lou as contributing fashion director for six months. Paula and Margot assured Cat behind closed doors that they’d wanted to promote her into Hillary’s job, but, being an EU citizen, she’d need a full green card—her current visa wouldn’t support the types of travel required for the job—and they needed more time to get Cooper’s approval. Lou’s interim role was just a part of the process.

Cat hadn’t resented their decision. Hillary had been one of her closest friends, and she would have felt disloyal lobbying for the position. Lou’s stepping in allowed Cat some real time to grieve and search for balance in her life, and no one at RAGE expected that Lou—who’d never had a paying job before—would want to stay beyond her six-month contract, anyway.

As she and Lou walked together to their offices, the new crop of interns stared, openmouthed, at the ghostly pale six-foot-one half-Japanese, half-Belgian senior editor dressed like an off-duty model at a dive bar and the five-foot-two alarmingly tan semifamous blonde Brit beside her who wore mud-encrusted riding boots, dark khaki microshorts, and a white linen trapeze top with ropes of turquoise and topaz around her neck.

Constance Onderveet, the magazine’s managing editor, peered through the glass wall of Margot’s office, her eyes narrowed and critical, a look Cat tried to defuse by smiling and waving. Con- stance smiled uncertainly back, while Paula, on the phone in her own office next door, mercifully kept her back to Cat’s entrance. Constance is calculating exactly how late I am, Cat thought, realizing that she’d crossed some kind of invisible boundary. Thankfully, Bess looked up from her desk a moment later and smiled her sunny grin at both Cat and Lou.

“Hi!” she said, pausing from her bracelet sorting. “I’m on bracelets all day, but let me know what you need. Margot is out in Paris, but she’s back tomorrow. Paula’s on a rampage. Constance is reworking Judy and the Technicolor Housecoat, so we will have to pull more brooches—it was Havisham, but now it’s more early Cindy Sherman throwing eggs on the floor. I put a tray in your office, Cat; and Lou, we need picks for the blue page for September’s NEEDS. Molly is feeling very blue today so she’ll help you.”

As always, Cat was awed by Bess’s organizational skills. Lou looked over at Molly, the blue-haired intern.

“Moll!” Lou called out with delight. “You ARE blue today. I love it. If Boots says so, then it must be done. Blue’s the thing for Book, then. I want a coffee and then let’s get started.”

Lou chucked her striped linsey-woolsey tote—custom-made for her by female prisoners in Uzbekistan through a collaboration with Barneys, a project cut sadly short by the elaborate pleas for help sewn into many of the final product’s linings—at the doorway of her office and marched over to the Coca-Cola coffee dispenser. Molly stood there awkwardly, unsure of whether or not she should have gotten the coffee for Lou. Lou also seemed unsure whether or not she should have asked Molly for it, like she would a maid or a flight attendant. Lou was a bit lost in the working world, still, and in that sense, intern and boss were perfectly matched. Molly was glad that at least Lou was kind, even if it was in that ropy British backslapping kind of way. And had she really just called Bess “Boots” and RAGE Fashion Book just plain “Book”?

Later that night, on the phone to her parents in Los Angeles, Molly would casually refer to the magazine as simply “Book,” thinking she sounded sophisticated. After she hung up, Molly’s father would say, “I think she gets dumber every year.”

When Lou returned from the Coca-Cola machine with a cold press and a single glass filled with ice, Molly followed her into her nearly bare office, formerly occupied by Hillary. Molly sat down in the sky-blue Le Corbusier swivel chair in front of Lou’s desk, Moleskine and purple jelly pen in hand, ready to take notes, while Lou sat behind the desk on a shiny exercise ball she’d swapped in for the existing Aeron chair. She expertly popped the cap off the bottle of cold press using a monogrammed gold Dunhill lighter and poured the coffee into a glass and slid it across to the intern.

“Mummy’s little helper,” she woofed at Molly, who smiled nervously.

Molly didn’t think you were supposed to drink cold press straight, but she didn’t want to be rude, so she took a sip. Jesus, that’s bitter. She looked up to see Lou gaily swigging from the bottle as though it were water.

Lou stared at the laptop left open on the desk in front of her, displaying a completely blank spreadsheet in CoopDoc, Cooper’s in-house, cloud-based version of Excel.

“So,” said Lou.

“Yes,” said Molly.

“How many.”

“How many . . . what?” asked Molly.

“How many bloody blue bits do we need for NEEDS September?”

“I think twelve. But it can be fewer than that if we shoot some really big.”

“All right. Twelve. We can do that. Twelve blue things you just absolutely fucking need. Well. Okay. Yves Klein, let’s start there. Can you call Zoe at YSL? Let’s see what they’re doing with everything from the Marrakech house this year—I know they do a home line based off Majorelle for spring every year. Tell her I want six things in bleu. We can use two of those, probably. Then I want you to call this place I went to last year in Nah-miii-biii-ah. It’s this eco retreat and elephant sanctuary and this sort of wonderful yogic cleansing place that you heli into and they have these blue harnesses for their elephants, for their little baby elephants, and they make the dye out of some kind of Namibian flower, so let’s get a few of those. You could repurpose it for a large dog or child, or maybe you could wear it like a vest. And, hmm, more blue, maybe we should go to some showrooms. Oh—AND I’ve been thinking about tiling the upstairs bath blue so we’ll need some blue porcelain tiles anyway, maybe a blue toilet to match. Let’s find an Italian one. Is it too kitsch to have a cerulean potty? What do you think?”

Molly was still scribbling furiously, trying to write down the correct keywords for further googling. What time is it in Namibia, anyway?


To finish reading chapter one—and to find out who killed Hillary Whitney—preorder I’ll Eat When I’m Dead, publishing May 2.

Excerpted from I’ll Eat When I’m Dead by Barbara Bourland. Copyright © 2017 by Barbara Bourland. Reprinted with permission of Grand Central Publishing. All rights reserved.