Killing the Emperors

Killing the Emperors coverLady (Jack) Troutbeck is missing. So is celebrity curator Sir Henry Fortune and his partner in love and money, louche art dealer Jason Pringle. But panic doesn’t begin in the London art world until no one can locate Anastasia Holliday, sensational abject artist; Jake Thorogood, the critic who catapulted her into stardom; or Dr. Hortense Wilde, notorious for having influenced generations of art students to despise craftsmanship. Are these fashionable adopters of conceptual art hostages? If so, why? Ransom? Revenge?

Who will be next? Will it be Sir Nicholas Serota, mighty overlord of British temples of the avant garde? The internationally renowned Young British Artist Damien Hirst, whose dross became platinum? Is Charles Saatchi, mega-rich husband of TV cook and the genius who took talentless young people and turned them into a winning brand, in danger? When news comes of a New York disappearance, the fears of the art establishment go transatlantic.

But why is Baroness Troutbeck a target? After all, Jack is a standard bearer of conservative values in education and art who recently publicly described admirers of conceptual art as knaves and fools.

Can Jack’s friends rescue her before her own worst fantasies are turned into reality and she becomes the next horrifying “hommage murder” satirizing notorious works of art?

Shortlisted for two awards at CrimeFest 2013

Killing the Emperors published by Allison & Busby; UK ed. edition (29 July 2013). Available as kindle, hardback and paperback and audiobook on Amazon.

“This blithe series puts itself on the side of the angels by merrily, and staunchly, subverting every tenet of political correctness.”
Patricia Craig in The Independent

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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.

Daily Mail

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.

Sir Terry Wogan

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.

Mike Ripley

Shots Magazine

Killing the Emperors is a seriously funny satire on the modern art industry. [Ruth] is always right on the button.

Frances Fyfield, author of Blood from Stone

[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).

The Spectator

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.

Kirkus Reviews

[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!

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