India Today - - LEISURE - —Latha Anan­thara­man

LS. Hil­ton’s new thriller opens with wildly con­sen­sual sex and a mur­der. There is a breezy,

Dragon Tat­too vi­o­lence to Dom­ina from the first, and from there on we fol­low our pro­tag­o­nist from one glam lo­ca­tion to an­other. The owner of an art gallery, Elis­a­beth (or Ju­dith) once stole a paint­ing, not re­al­is­ing that an­other paint­ing was packed with it—a draw­ing sup­pos­edly made by Car­avag­gio, who never made draw­ings. The owner in­sists the draw­ing was not a fake and he wants it back, so Ju­dith must find it.

Like Ja­son Bourne, Ju­dith roams up and down Europe and out to Ser­bia car­ry­ing noth­ing but a back­pack, a wad of cash and what looks like a su­per-smart phone. Of­ten dis­tract­ing from Hil­ton’s racy plot is her habit of adding de­signer tags to ev­ery de­scrip­tion. In ad­di­tion to be­ing an ex­pert in iden­ti­fy­ing and valu­ing paint­ings, Ju­dith can ap­par­ently name any hand­bag, pair of heels or jacket, even from across the street. This Cosmo lingo can get hi­lar­i­ously in­tru­sive. Case in point: as our felo­nious pro­tag­o­nist is about to go on the run, she picks up her al­ways-ready bag, ‘packed with a ver­sa­tile cap­sule wardrobe, al­low­ing me to cu­rate a va­ri­ety of dif­fer­ent looks’. But de­spite the in­ad­ver­tent com­edy of the name­drop­ping and the ac­ro­batic sex, the book holds the reader till the very end. The scenes run be­tween the rar­efied pri­vate gal­leries of the ob­scenely rich to the joy­ously over­pop­u­lated squalour of a shock artists’ stu­dio.

You’ll have to wait till page 167 for a look back at Ju­dith’s life, maybe the writer’s way of di­rect­ing you to the book in which Ju­dith’s ad­ven­tures be­gan—Maes­tra. Dom­ina it­self ends with a cliffhanger, so clearly a se­quel is al­ready rum­bling off the presses.

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