Sigourney Dujka runs with a bad crowd in urban Arizona. As with too many young people she is attracted by the excitement and becomes a part of city underlife and dependant on drugs and those that rob for it. She is offered an escape route – the unpalatable one of turning in her buddies in exchange for her freedom and full witness protection. It is one she takes.
Author Britt Skrabanek’s first twist is to introduce her main and always likeable character in her new life before regressing to her earlier days. Now we find her several years on in the retail trade, battling it out on the sales floor of a high-class Dallas fashion emporium for the custom of the oil-financed clientele, money no object. Skrabanek’s portrayal of life in the store and her fellow employees is priceless. Like it or not the women are part of the show and their long days on the floor are spent in heels and forced smiles. Petty rivalries are inevitable.
Away from work Jaye Davis (for this is now Sig’s name) hangs out with a loud and vacuous crowd, partying hard. Her relationship with her sick mother apart Jaye’s life is unfulfilled. It is with some relief that, under advice from her witness protection officer, she leaves this false life behind.
What follows for Jaye is gradually finding her roots in Prague, and also finding love. This part of the book is beautifully written and Jaye’s non-date with Milan through night-time Prague is the culmination of an excellent story.
Skrabanek writes at her best when she is not racing her novel ahead. The Prague scenes, her relationship with her mother. Some imagery made me smile – termites holding hands to keep the bannister rail together, waking up looking like shit run over twice.
I was a bit disappointed that we saw little of Jaye’s initial adjustment to her new identity – that happened behind our backs. Also she might have played out the suspense much longer for the reader when Jaye is confronted by her old life in Prague, just when everything looked perfect.
But overall I loved this novel and will now be making a beeline for Skrabanek’s first novel Beneath The Satin Gloves.