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Killing the Emperors

Read An Extract of Killing the Emperors


Author Ruth Dudley Edwards
Rights World English ex US and Can
ISBN 9780749013400
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The latest hilarious and scathing satire from Ruth Dudley Edwards

‘…the Turner Prize…is 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 The Critics 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

'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.'


'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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