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Killing the Emperors

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Author: Ruth Dudley Edwards

Genre: Crime, Mystery & Thriller
Format: E-book
ISBN: 9780749013400
Rights: World English ex US and Can
Pub. Date: 26th November 2012

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Synopsis of book»


The latest hilarious and scathing satire from Ruth Dudley Edwards

'...the Turner named after an innovative painter of genius and is awarded annually to whatever bluffer has caught the eye of the knaves and fools who dominate the contemporary art world.'

The outrageous and irrepressible Baroness Ida 'Jack' Troutbeck, has another cultural battle to win against the British Establishment: this time, against the horror of conceptual art, as demonstrated by the likes of Tracy Emin and Damien Hirst.

But the day after she enthusiastically announces this war to her close friends, Baroness Troutbeck disappears, together with nine other people connected to the modern art world. And when dead bodies start appearing in the form of notorious artistic creations, Troutbeck’s friends realise they must find her before it is too late...

What Critics Have Said»

'Teasing the cultural establishment is pure joy for Ruth Dudley Edwards. In KILLING THE EMPERORS, it is the art lobby that incurs the wrath of her alter ego, Baroness Troutbeck, a boisterous, fun-loving academic who is the epitome of political incorrectness... Fans of Damien Hirst and Tracey Emin are advised to steer clear of this book but those of us who believe that real art has nothing to do with pickled sharks or unmade beds will cheer every page of an exhilarating read.'Daily Mail

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'Ruth Dudley Edwards is a master of satirical comedy writing. The Baroness Troutbeck is a wonderful invention and as a central character provides most of the humour. She is both classy and classless... This hilarious series, that points its funny finger at a corner of society, comes highly recommended, they are all very entertaining, and this is one of her best.'Lizzie Hayes, Mystery Women

In KILLING THE EMPERORS Edwards expertly mines the inner sanctum of the sanctimonious to expose the pompousness and perfidy that drives much of the art scene in a parody not all that far removed from reality. It is an entertaining, at times hilarious read, and has the added virtue of making some insightful (and some would say long-overdue) comments about the contemporary art scene. To say that Edwards possesses biting wit is an understatement: at her best she makes a tankful of piranhas look like a pre-schooler's guppy collection. Does she sometimes go over the top? Of course, but KILLING THE EMPERORS is grounded firmly in fact, and highly entertaining with it, and who could say fairer than that?

'For some people, the inanity of contemporary art is depressing. For Ruth Dudley Edwards, it's hilarious. I devoured 'Killing the Emperors' because I'd rather laugh than cry.'Lionel Shriver, author of We Need to Talk About Kevin

'Ruth Dudley Edwards is a fearless and serious journalist. She is also one of the most entertaining crime writers around, the author of a series that satirizes special interest groups and the political correctness that makes other commentators look away politely... Ruth Dudley Edwards is unsparing in her accusations of unoriginality, poor taste and talentlessness. Whatever posterity’s verdict may be of conceptual art, this send-up should be applauded for its vigour and humour.'Times Literary Supplement

'Killing the Emperors is a seriously funny satire on the modern art industry. [Ruth] is always right on the button.'Frances Fyfield, author of Blood from Stone

'[Had me] shamelessly laughing out loud... There are few writers around who are inspired to make heinous crime into comedy, but Ruth Dudley Edwards has achieved her goal precisely. In addition to crafting a brilliant plot there is no restraint when it comes to naming and shaming those who, conceptually or otherwise, wish to deceive and make millions of pounds along the way...Killing The Emperors by Ruth Dudley Edwards gets a full five stars from me!'Concert News Online

'A mad oligarch, murderous Albanians, the SAS, a Big Brother parody, all wrapped up in a severe kicking for "conceptual" art. If your name's Serota, Saatchi, Emin or Hirst, look away now.'Sir Terry Wogan

'[Ruth Dudley Edwards'] crime fiction usually takes the form of bludgeoning to death one of the sacred cows of contemporary life. The series has several recurring characters, but the bludgeon tends to be wielded most ruthlessly by Baroness Troutbeck... Here Troutbeck turns on modern art: in particular, she charges an unholy coterie of commercially astute artists, gallerists, critics, curators and academics with glorifying derivative and inept work and colluding to drive up its value to levels that are frankly obscene. She names names with gleeful abandon. The plot serves as an entertaining vehicle for a polemic against the abuses of modern art, which is all the more effective for quoting facts and figures. Meanwhile the story deals with murder, mass kidnapping and a particularly sinister variant of Big Brother, designed for an audience of one (a Russian oligarch with unusual mental health issues). The novel is also very funny and should be required reading in the nation’s art colleges, not to mention for Damien Hirst, Tracey Emin, Charles Saatchi and Sir Nicholas Serota (or, as Lady Troutbeck prefers, Sclerota).'The Spectator

'The latest in a comic crime series, which has, over the years, delivered hefty slaps to the rumps of various sacred cows. Here, [Ruth Dudley Edwards] takes a swipe at the world of conceptual art, with her heroine, the magnificently monstrous reactionary libertarian Baroness "Jack" Troutbeck, on splendidly splenetic form.'Guardian

'The plot moves seamlessly from the sublime to the ridiculously sublime...There are some great jokes in this book and even if the targets are not that difficult to hit for a satirist of Ruth’s standing, one is left in no doubt that this is a subject close to her heart and one she has been seething about for several years.'Mike Ripley, Shots Magazine

'A raucous send-up of the art world’s collectors, critics, curators and especially those postmodernists who call themselves artists... Imagine "And Then There Were None" written with wicked humour and a major grievance about money, not taste, ruling the art world.'Kirkus Reviews

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What You Say»                                                             Add your review »

If sacred cows make the best burgers, then Ruth Dudley Edwards provides writing masterpieces loaded with literary umami. Skewering ridiculousness and puncturing [unwarranted] pomposity, her books are always a pleasure.
'Killing the Emperors' goes after the postmodern art scene (although obscurantist or pseudoconceptual art would be a bit more accurate. "Meaningless nonsense promoted in order to make money" works too). For those who have seen or heard of "My Bed" or "The Physical Impossibility of Whatever It Is Involving a Dead Shark and Some Pretentious Twaddle About Life" and thought "What the frick?!" or "Ew" or "How is this art?", this book expresses your inner feelings with acidly well-written and well-aimed words. A particularly enjoyable aspect is that it is not just the "artists" who feel the wrath, but those who are more responsible for this crap (in some cases quite literally) being promoted and discussed - the academics and critics and gallery owners who benefit from the nonsense.
The title (like so much about Ruth Dudley Edwards and her writing) is particularly well-chosen - it refers to the story by Hans Christian Anderson about the vain Emperor who has two swindlers pose as tailors promising the finest clothes ever fine, in fact, that those who were stupid, or unappreciative, or not worthy couldn't see how fine it was. After taking a load of gold, they give the Emperor...nothing. Literally. When the Emperor's ministers are sent to examine the finished work, they (of course) cannot see anything. However, out of fear of being considered unfit and incompetent, they quickly voice their loud approval of the clothes, and thus the Emperor, wanting to show his clothing to his people, and orders a royal procession. And so he walks, stark naked (some versions emphasize the disgusting condition of the Emperor's body, particularly the corpulence, as a commentary on colonialism...but I digress) with all of the citizens who are gathered not able to see any clothes, but too afraid to point anything out save for agreeing how marvelous the Emperor's finery is. Until a small child, who doesn't know to keep up the fiction, blurts out "The Emperor is naked!"
"Killing the Emperors" is the small child (as it were), pointing out that there isn't anything in the conceptual art world that is art, and that it is used as a vehicle to make money and take advantage of others. (Among other valid points, there's also the incestuous and incredibly closed-off world of art which is a lot like those in the fashion world). And it is incredibly hilarious and well-written (calling the Director of the Tate "Sclerota" and using the show "Big Brother" as the basis for what others have described as a situation reminiscent of "And Then There Were None" aka "Ten Little Indians" are two of the high points)
I've never met a Ruth Dudley Edwards book I didn't like, and I always eagerly await her novels, particularly to see what she takes a well-deserved swing at next. And if you enjoy this one, do do DO go back and read/get her others ("The Anglo-Irish Murders", "Ten Lords-A-Leaping", "Matricide at St. Martha's", and "Murder in a Cathedral" are some of my particularly favorites)Sean Duckworth
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