I wish to thank Grace Pengelly of Harper Collins for inviting me to read and review HOUSE OF BEAUTY by Melba Escobar
This is a thought-provoking Colombian crime novel set in and around a high-end beauty salon in a beauty salon in Bogotá.
House of Beauty is a high-end salon in Bogotá’s exclusive Zona Rosa area, and Karen is one of its best beauticians. But there is more to her role than the best way to apply wax, or how to give the perfect massage. Her clients confide in her, and she knows all about them. Their breast implants, their weekends in Miami, their divorces and affairs.
Karen has problems of her own. She’s in trouble, and she needs money. More money than she can make at House of Beauty.
Most serious of all: a teenage girl is found dead, and Karen was one of the last people to see her alive. So the girl’s mother is desperate to talk to her…
HERE ARE MY THOUGHTS AND REVIEW
This is a stunning book cover, very different to so many that are alike these days and to be honest so is what is inside. Set in Colombia the story transported me into an alien society. A society where crimes just seemed to be accepted by victims that had given up on the hope of any justice been done. I aren’t talking about life on the streets either. The story unwinds in a high-class beauty salon in Bogotá’s Zona Rosa area.
I don’t know what it is about anything from the high street hair saloon in the UK to the Beauty Saloon in this story but get a woman relaxing while she has her weekly pamper and her tongue seems to relax too. Things that she wouldn’t normally tell her best friend, about her husband’s business, to who she is sleeping with, is told freely to the woman pampering her. But Karen is hearing the secrets of the high-class citizens of Bogotá and being brought young schools girls to enhance their beauty that will be picked up later. One such girl is found dead.
The story is told mainly through the voices of women that are all connected one way or another by the Beauty Saloon and what is apparent is the brutality of the men that have no respect for any of these women, no matter what class they belong to. Beauty seems to be no more than skin deep in this society. It is something to be bargained with for a better life but at what price? There are only couple of good guys in this story but primarily it is a story about corruption that goes to the top, with everything having a price.
The most horrifying thing is how very blatant it all was, it made my blood run cold. The author of this book has created at atmosphere of terror where I felt I should read in whispers in my mind so the wrong people couldn’t over hear. I really didn’t know if on the next pages they would still be there or explained away in a sentence. The last chapter really rounded it off for me in the most haunting way.
HERE IS A LITTLE ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Melba Escobar writes for the Colombian newspapers El Espectador and El País. Her novel House of Beauty was chosen as one of the best books of 2016 by the Colombian National Novel Prize . She lives in Bogotá.