CRIMSON CODEX BOOK REVIEW
Someone kidnaps former top model Ava Germaine and drapes her in a “skin coat”—made from the skin of a human corpse—for a Fashion Week runway. St. Joseph’s Abbey later receives a bloody package addressed to Cecil LeClaire, the name one of its monks formerly used. Inside is a hand and a bracelet Cecil identifies as having belonged to Annabelle Leigh, his girlfriend who vanished a decade ago when they were both 14.
Popular media theories include that Margaux was somehow involved in Annabelle’s abduction or that Cecil, heir to his mother Margaux’s LeClaire Model Management, killed Annabelle. Believing the “skin coat” was made from Annabelle’s skin, which a doctor eventually verifies, Cecil returns to New York to bury his past before taking his solemn vows.
It’s quickly apparent that the teen models living in LeClaire Mansion are not living well, perpetually hungry, and not allowed to leave without supervision.
But Cecil soon suspects that a mysterious, fashion-affiliated person called VD is Annabelle’s killer and that Margaux may somehow be involved. He teams up with Ava to infiltrate VD-associated Quirk Model Management and discovers a world of sordidness, where maltreated women are mere products. Mangin’s relentlessly grim story takes a dim view of the modeling industry, noting a “model’s job was to play dead,” with 24-year-old Ava designating herself as “a really old hag.”
Numerous characters are either unpleasant or flawed; Cecil mostly abides by his vows but has an obvious romantic interest in celebrated fashion designer Tazia Perdonna, who happens to be his godmother. Ava’s eccentricity, however, is a bright spot: She cares for a pet rat and tries to pass off movie plots as her personal history. Mangin writes in a confident, razor-edged style in a book with genuinely engaging elements, from VD to the perils of young female models.
Pub Date: July 12, 2020
Page Count: 412
Publisher: Visage Media LLC
Review Posted Online: May 11, 2020