When a fire forces TV newswoman Robin Hudson to vacate her apartment, she and her cat Louise Bryant move into the legendary Chelsea Hotel, the bohemian hostelry where artists both famous and infamous have long lived in semi-peaceful coexistence with countless hungers-on, wannabes, and rubberneckers looking for the "real" New York. When a fire forces TV newswoman Robin Hudson to vacate her apartment, she and her cat Louise Bryant move into the legendary Chelsea Hotel, the bohemian hostelry where artists both famous and infamous have long lived in semi-peaceful coexistence with countless hangers-on, wannabes, and rubberneckers looking for the "real" New York. A smoky-eyed man she's just met dies in an apparent suicide, but Robin's not so sure. Could it be murder? Perhaps a genuine suicide subtly staged to look like murder and thereby frame someone? Maybe even the last word in performance art? Is it related in some way to the star-crossed and rather irritable young lovers who have appealed to Robin for help? To sort it out, Robin must brave the whole downtown thing and more: guerrilla artists, jealous women, brooding poets, feuding magicians, art forgers, and befuddled tourists.It could make a girl crazy, having to dig deep into the history of the venerable hotel nicknamed (not without reason) "the mothership." Oh, and plus...one final, terrible complication: Robin seems to have fallen accidentally in love. Will Robin get the bad guy? The good guy? Both?
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To describe Hayter's writing as "sparkling" would be to do her an injustice. Every description, line of dialogue and scene packs a punch. Her bold, "blousy" style is equivalent to being caught in on-coming traffic--it's noisy and hectic and possibly gory but, lord, what a ride. Hayter's prose doesn't just sparkle, it explodes across the page.
In The Chelsea Girl Murders, Robin Hudson, a forty-ish newswoman and New Yorker, finds herself yet again hurled into chaos and carnage. When her neighbour Mrs Ramirez, legendary for "patrolling the neighbourhood for public urinators and other ne'er-do-wells", accidentally burns down their apartment building with her electric Ascension of Jesus display, Robin moves into her friend Tamayo's place at the Chelsea hotel, "the kind of place the Addams family would check into when in New York". Murder and mayhem are never too far from Robin's door so it's hardly surprising that a knock in the middle of the night leads to a dead man tumbling onto her carpet. In the space of 48 hours, Robin gets herself embroiled with a murder, a missing person's case, an elopement, art forgery and feuding magicians. Nothing unusual there then!
Throughout it all, Hayter's perennial theme of balancing feminism with a healthy, heterosexual appetite snakes its way through the subtext of the plot in teasing and irreverent ways. Don't be fooled as Hayter/Hudson's tongue lashes and licks seemingly at whim--every nuance and casual aside has a knock-on effect--building up to the thrilling denouement.
Other Robin Hudson novels include What's a Girl Gotta Do, Nice Girls Finish Last, Revenge of the Cootie Girls and The Last Manly Man. --Nicola Perry
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Book Description Penguin Books, 2001. Mass-market paperback. Book Condition: New. Mass market (rack) paperback. Glued binding. 240 p. Robin Hudson Mysteries (Paperback). Audience: General/trade. Bookseller Inventory # Alibris_0011189
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