views

Mixing business with glamour and killer heels

THE TOWERING WORLD OF JIMMY CHOO&nbsp; <br /><strong>By Lauren Goldstein Crowe and Sagra Maceira de Rosan</strong><br />BLOOMSBURY &pound;18.99<br /><br />PART business manual and part snoopy fashion reportage, the tale of super-brand Jimmy Choo is by turns compelling and dull. Well, it depends on the reader, actually. If your primary interest is learning about what makes companies successful, then you might find the lengthy passages full of detail concerning branding, profits, takeovers and sales riveting. One of the authors is a luxury investor so knows a thing or two about the nuts and bolts of how companies like Jimmy Choo do business and thrive.<br /><br />But if you are one of the millions of women worldwide who dream of owning a pair (or another pair) of Jimmy Choos, or even are just a fan of Sex and the City, the series which made the brand a centrepiece of the characters&rsquo; lifestyle, then you&rsquo;ll also be enticed.<br /><br />The authors did their research of the company well &ndash; it hinges, of course, on its mesmeric founder, Tamara Mellon, who is known for her mile-high legs, publicity stunts, messy marriage and divorce to banking golden boy Matthew Mellon, and &ndash; of course &ndash; stiletto-sharp business acumen. The 2004 sale of Jimmy Choo to a private equity firm for &pound;101m helped her land her firmly on Britain&rsquo;s rich list.<br /><br />Jimmy Choo himself, the Malaysian shoe-maker who Mellon spotted in his studio in Hackney and whose names adorn the shops of the global empire &ndash;&nbsp;and who has now largely parted ways with Mellon &ndash; is given less attention in the book than one would like, however. Although the authors don&rsquo;t dwell on him, or controversies such as Mellon&rsquo;s apparent rift with her mother, they do take a snide tone towards Mellon herself &ndash; perhaps unfairly so. She may have ditzy tastes (such as needing 10 pairs of shoes for a day in the Bahamas &ndash; something the authors hold up as a typical whim) but it was she that drove the company to great heights, where it still stands. <br /><br />BONE BY BONE<br /><strong>By Carol O&rsquo;Connell</strong><br />HEADLINE PAPERBACK, &pound;6.99<br /><br />FIRMLY on the literary critics&rsquo; agenda, Carol O&rsquo;Connell is one of the US&rsquo;s most revered crime authors and who has just signed up to a UK publisher. This formidable storysmith is best known and loved for her Kathy Mallory books, in which the heroine is dangerously charismatic, gutsy, and of course, always right. Just what the world needs more of.<br /><br />This is only her second standalone book but a triumph nevertheless, with a painstaking plot full of twists and oddballs. It&rsquo;s also pretty sinister.<br /><br />Coventry is a far-out spot in northern California. It&rsquo;s where Joshua Hobbs went missing 20 years ago, disappearing after a trip to the woods with his brother Oren. Now, two decades later, Josh is returning to Coventry, to his father&rsquo;s doorstep to be precise. Bone by bone, his skeleton is turning up in the dead of night. Grisly stuff. Good thing Oren, who has returned to check out the midnight deliveries of his brother&rsquo;s bones, is a tough guy &ndash; he&rsquo;s an ex Army Criminal Investigations Department officer.<br /><br />Bit by bit the town is sifted through for suspects and information. And boy is the cast of characters eccentric, from a smelly, weight-lifting librarian to Hannah, the housekeeper that swooped in out of nowhere to stitch the Hobbs family back together after the boys&rsquo; mother died.<br /><br />There&rsquo;s even a love interest for Oren, in the form of town heartbreaker Isabelle Winston, but it is never easy to relax even around Oren since he&rsquo;s not necessarily innocent himself. This is the ultimate whodunit, written with skill and flair by an experienced crime doyenne. <br /><br />JERUSALEM<br /><strong>By Patrick Neate</strong><br />PENGUIN, &pound;12.99<br /><br />TECHNICALLY the third in award-winning Neate&rsquo;s Zambawi trilogy, you can still enjoy Jerusalem on its own. And very much, too. It&rsquo;s a web of tightly wound mini-narratives that all add up to a genuinely engaging satire on colonialism and the relationship between the First and Third Worlds.<br /><br />Zambawi, of course, is a fictional country in Africa. All is not well there: a dictator (clearly based on Zimbabwe&rsquo;s leader Robert Mugabe) has imprisoned the country&rsquo;s much-loved &ldquo;zakulu&rdquo;, or spiritual medium, for telling things how they are. This narrative is the modern counterpart to another African one, that of Boer War-returned Englishman Henry Morton Stanley, reveals a quest for the meaning of Englishness in the heart of colonialism.<br /><br />Move over to modern-day England, where David Pinner, an impotent politician, is trying to rebrand himself as a man of conviction and is sent to Zambawi to deal with the case of a British businessman who has got himself in a fix with the government. Ironically, Pinner&rsquo;s son Preston runs a company called Authenticity, that specialises in helping businesses rebrand themselves and their products as &ldquo;cool&rdquo;.<br /><br />There are more narratives, but to go into it any more would give you the impression that this book is dull. It isn&rsquo;t &ndash; it spans continents, eras and personalities with superb agility.<br /><br />It&rsquo;s a satire of the highest order, poking fun at the nature of modern politics, our attempts to get involved with Africa, and, of course, colonialism, which lies at the heart of what it once meant to be British.<br /><br />A relevant, enjoyable read.