Killing the Emperors: Kirkus review
A raucous send-up of the art world’s collectors, critics, curators and especially those postmodernists who call themselves artists.
Lady Jack Troutbeck (Murdering Americans, 2007, etc.), who has spent the past few weeks cavorting with Russian billionaire Oleg Sarkovsky aboard his yacht and at his estates, has finally decided to ditch the ruthless oligarch when she is summarily hijacked and finds herself in a locked room, sans food, sans water and guarded by an Albanian who eventually agrees to bring her vittles provided she stops her off-key singing. She’s escorted into another room decorated with artwork of dung, rotten meat, feeding maggots and so forth, which she’s railed against in the past (she calls London’s Tate Gallery, now displaying much of this sort of tripe, the Tat Gallery). Then, one by one, members of the postmodern and performance claque are led in. A loudspeaker summons her to yet another room, where a heavily accented voice tells her that there are games to be played, and she must judge who is worst at them. In the dead of night, each game’s loser is murdered in an homage to a specific postmodernist, and the corpse is displayed at London sites. While this is going on, and Lady Jack is initiating arguments about every facet of art with her co-captives, her chums on the outside are trying to find her. Scotland Yard, stymied by infighting of its own, is late to take up the homage murders. It will take the work of an Inland Revenue functionary to secure Lady Jack’s retrieval.
Imagine And Then There Were None written with wicked humor and a major grievance about money, not taste, ruling the art world.
Praise for Killing the Emperors:
Fans of Damien Hirst and Tracey Emin are advised to steer clear of this book but those of us who believe that real art has nothing to do with pickled sharks or unmade beds will cheer every page of an exhilarating read.
A mad oligarch, murderous Albanians, the SAS, a Big Brother parody, all wrapped up in a severe kicking for “conceptual” art. If your name’s Serota, Saatchi, Emin or Hirst, look away now.
The latest in a comic crime series, which has, over the years, delivered hefty slaps to the rumps of various sacred cows. Here, [Ruth Dudley Edwards] takes a swipe at the world of conceptual art, with her heroine, the magnificently monstrous reactionary libertarian Baroness “Jack” Troutbeck, on splendidly splenetic form.
The plot moves seamlessly from the sublime to the ridiculously sublime…There are some great jokes in this book and even if the targets are not that difficult to hit for a satirist of Ruth’s standing, one is left in no doubt that this is a subject close to her heart and one she has been seething about for several years.
Killing the Emperors is a seriously funny satire on the modern art industry. [Ruth] is always right on the button.
[Ruth Dudley Edwards’] crime fiction usually takes the form of bludgeoning to death one of the sacred cows of contemporary life. The series has several recurring characters, but the bludgeon tends to be wielded most ruthlessly by Baroness Troutbeck… Here Troutbeck turns on modern art: in particular, she charges an unholy coterie of commercially astute artists, gallerists, critics, curators and academics with glorifying derivative and inept work and colluding to drive up its value to levels that are frankly obscene. She names names with gleeful abandon. The plot serves as an entertaining vehicle for a polemic against the abuses of modern art, which is all the more effective for quoting facts and figures. Meanwhile the story deals with murder, mass kidnapping and a particularly sinister variant of Big Brother, designed for an audience of one (a Russian oligarch with unusual mental health issues). The novel is also very funny and should be required reading in the nation’s art colleges, not to mention for Damien Hirst, Tracey Emin, Charles Saatchi and Sir Nicholas Serota (or, as Lady Troutbeck prefers, Sclerota).
A raucous send-up of the art world’s collectors, critics, curators and especially those postmodernists who call themselves artists… Imagine “And Then There Were None” written with wicked humour and a major grievance about money, not taste, ruling the art world.
[Had me] shamelessly laughing out loud… There are few writers around who are inspired to make heinous crime into comedy, but Ruth Dudley Edwards has achieved her goal precisely. In addition to crafting a brilliant plot there is no restraint when it comes to naming and shaming those who, conceptually or otherwise, wish to deceive and make millions of pounds along the way…Killing The Emperors by Ruth Dudley Edwards gets a full five stars from me!