The Pathology of Lies

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Gloria Greene is young, beautiful, brilliant, and dead serious about what she wants. She's used her many charms to fuel her blazing rise from intern to editor in chief of sophisticated Portfolio magazine. But is she really the killer who hacked the former editor to pieces and shipped his body parts cross-country by UPS? The prime suspect, Gloria ...

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Gloria Greene is young, beautiful, brilliant, and dead serious about what she wants. She's used her many charms to fuel her blazing rise from intern to editor in chief of sophisticated Portfolio magazine. But is she really the killer who hacked the former editor to pieces and shipped his body parts cross-country by UPS? The prime suspect, Gloria shines in the media spotlight and FBI glare, enjoying the attentions of a daddy who loves her a little too much and the excessive worrying of her fabulous and neurotic friends. Now she covets the editorship of the legendary Algonquin magazine — after all, nobody is a suspect forever...

For readers of Bright Lights, Big City and The Secret History comes an entertaining portrait of a devilishly ambitious modern woman, and a satirical look at the magazine world from an exciting new author.

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Editorial Reviews

Ivan Nahem

The thicketed path of career advancement is best, or at least most rapidly, cleared with sharp instruments. Gloria Greene, the powerhouse protagonist of Jonathon Keats' The Pathology of Lies, has grown impatient with her lack of progress, and she may have traded the pen for the scalpel. At the story's outset she's the chief suspect in the murder of P.J. Bullock III, the former editor in chief of the glossy San Francisco magazine Portfolio, whose job she has assumed.

Gloria and P.J. had been lovers, but after his bid for chief editorship of the Algonquin (read: New Yorker) tanked, they had broken up disharmoniously, and subsequently parts of P.J.'s body have begun appearing around the world, UPSed to Portfolio vendors in grisly packages. Factor in the circumstances that Gloria learned lots about dissection from her father, a plastic surgeon, and that she counted on P.J.'s leaving so that she could fill his vacancy, and the case seems like a no-brainer for the detectives . And yet.

Far from freaked by the attention, Gloria revels in it. Imagine a publicity-starved Tina Brown from hell. She's by far Keats', um, sharpest character. I resisted her at first -- the voice is just too breezy and obvious -- but in time her self-styled-bitch routine becomes seductive. If the conference room is the job-obsessed late-'90s equivalent of the bedroom, what could be hotter than an office ice queen with acid on her tongue and a weapon in her hand?

The Pathology of Lies does bear the marks of a first novel. Gloria is the only character we come to know deeply. Keats tries to give her some worthy opponents, but no one sticks. Even the murder victim remains shrouded in obscurity, not to mention plastic. Her colleagues are so unrelentingly shallow that one wonders why we should care about their vicious little world. And there are a few truly unfortunate implausibilities, my favorite being that Gloria, quite obviously the author's alter ego, comes awfully close to receiving a Pulitzer for a rather humdrum interview she gives.

All the same, the character is intriguingly complex. She obsesses about sex but, forever aloof, never really connects. Her heart -- oddly, and potentially interestingly -- belongs to daddy, but the Electra scenes seem sketchy. In fact, the book's most sensual parts involve the dismemberment. Not that there's much here a veteran Food Channel viewer couldn't stomach, but the author has done his homework admirably enough. (Let's hope he didn't learn by practicing on his colleagues: Keats is a San Francisco editor himself.)

In the end, tone and attitude clear the way. Gloria does faithfully represent some rather unsavory element of the Whatever generation. There's a disturbing hollowness in her jaded wit, like holes in the air. Can we learn from her? Sadly, I suppose, yes. But the cautionary-tale aspect of the book is secondary to the amazingly solid portrait of the leading character. Gloria's story will make a great beach book for anyone who enjoys examining a pathological character and her lies, a read as reliably rapid as a Parcel Post plane bearing gruesome cargo to distant parts of our tragic, riven globe. -- Salon

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Gloria Greene is 27, beautiful and ambitious--perhaps murderously so. When the head of San Francisco's Portfolio magazine is murdered (his body cut into pieces and mailed to subscribers throughout the country), Greene, the food editor who knows nothing about food, is promoted simultaneously to chief editor and suspect. The alleged "Bulk Mail Butcher" openly enjoys and exploits her notoriety, using her murder-suspect status to catapult herself into front-page celebrity. She humiliates the FBI and the entire magazine industry with her scandalous and paradoxical public prancing, announcing that she is "too guilty to be anything but free." Greene is outrageously narcissistic, extolling incest as the closest thing to self-love ("We taste each other. In each other we taste ourselves," she says of her ongoing affair with her father). There's a good deal here (including Greene's cold-blooded treatment of an employee just diagnosed HIV positive) that may offend, but first-time novelist Keats puts his real-life magazine experience (at SOMA and, currently, San Francisco magazine) to good use in fashioning this shrewd satire. Though his main character is very much a woman written by a man, Gloria is humorously exaggerated, both as a comic-book sexpot and murderous enfant terrible. And it is this wit that makes the tale as entertaining, glib and smug as it is. Keats's work here doesn't fulfill its overt, if improbable, Dostoyevskian aspirations, but it does succeed at being slick and sassy. (May)
Kirkus Reviews
What would you get if you crossed Lucrezia Borgia with Tina Brown? San Francisco journalist Keats seems to have a pretty good idea, judging from his brutally funny debut novel. Journalism was never exactly a gentleman's—still less a lady's—profession, but everyone knows that it's become even more of a shark tank in the last few years, especially at glossy rags like Portfolio, where Gloria Greene started out as an unpaid intern fresh out of college. "Loaded with snide celebrity profiles, fortified with unverifiable society gossip, spiked with a vocabulary at once too sophisticated and too vulgar for Miriam-Webster, Portfolio is a type of pornography." Gloria fits right in: straight out of the gate, she started sleeping with editor P.J. Bullock in quick exchange for a paid position as food editor. From there, her horizons broaden quickly: P.J. is on the short list of candidates to take over the New Yorker–like magazine Algonquin, and Gloria extracts a promise from P.J. that she'll get control of Portfolio once he leaves. The problem is, however, that P.J. gets passed over at Algonquin and quite naturally prefers to keep the only job he has. But soon afterward P.J. disappears and Gloria persuades Portfolio's publisher to let her take over in the interim. When P.J.'s dismembered body (or most of it) is discovered in UPS parcels posted across the country, Gloria becomes a media sensation overnight—a murderer editing the magazine she killed for! Did she or didn't she? Well, it's true that Gloria's father is a cosmetic surgeon who taught his daughter a great deal about human anatomy–and how to slice it–but that's just circumstantial evidence, same as her affair with P.J.The only way to find out for sure what might have happened. is to look into Gloria's soul. If you can find it. Fast, funny, and extremely nasty: a send-up of media venality that will amuse subscribers and delight ink-stained wretches from coast to coast.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780446674454
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
  • Publication date: 8/1/2008
  • Pages: 292
  • Product dimensions: 5.00 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.66 (d)

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

That criminal investigations are a nuisance is a self-evident truth, really, to my way of thinking far more self-evident than the truth that all men are created equal. At least that's what I'm trying to explain to my friends Deirdre and Emily, and to myself as well, although there's not much controversy over the point. The difficulty is that we're all rather drunk and I'm having the most troublesome time with my consonants.

This amuses Deirdre no end, and Emily, too, and even I laugh a bit once I've managed to disentangle my tongue from what I'm trying to say. Emily lights a cigarette. Deirdre refills my glass. She pays no attention to what I've been drinking or to whether I've finished yet. "Campari mixes well with everything, Gloria."

I'm prepared to believe her, although it's well known how much she exaggerates. As the token brunette among us, Deirdre's always trying too hard to be outrageous.

Emily, meanwhile, who's somewhat more composed than I, takes control of the conversation. She's off briefly on a tangent about trust-fund managers, and then returns to ask, with her farm-girl smile, whether I'm still screwing the Russian.

I remind her that she asked me the same question last week, that she asks me about my publisher at Portfolio every time we're drunk together, and the answer is always the same.

"And what's that?"

"Whenever necessary, and never for recreational purposes." My eyes wander as I say this. I survey the living room for remnants of my cocktail party: glasses everywhere and of every kind imaginable, some I'm certain I don't own. Bits of outerwear remain, too, scarves andthe occasional glove left by a drunken guest. People freeze to death in San Francisco in December.

The room returns to focus some seconds later when Deirdre says, "Fucking Dmitri for the good of magazine journalism? How selfless of you. PJ must have trained you well." Her voice is loud and broad, her eyebrows artfully raised above the wire rims of her glasses. Even in my own apartment, Deirdre looks somehow foreign, as if she just stepped out of an Armani ad. People who haven't met her always expect her to speak with an accent. When she doesn't, the temptation is to compliment her on her English.

"Speaking of PJ, isn't it awfully soon to be throwing a party? I mean you are a suspect and all."

"I can't stop the planet because of it." I shrug. "Given the direction of things, I doubt I'd have invited him anyway."

Of course, Deirdre's too romantic to understand, and besides, she's busy flipping through my magazines. What she's looking for is me.

"Page fifty-two," I offer, to save her the trouble of going through Time cover-to-cover and myself the trauma of having to wait while she does. "They used one of the Klugman photos. A different one."

"?Gloria Greene Confesses: "I Rather Like the Attention."'" She reads the caption aloud. This week the FBI hasn't found any evidence for or against me, so I've moved from the news to the entertainment section.

"Lemme see." Emily grabs the magazine away from Deirdre, who glowers at her until she lays it flat on the couch beside me.

"You look fat," Em says triumphantly, filling her cheeks with air. "You should sue."

"She can't," interjects Deirdre. "She a public figure now. They can make her look as fat as they want."

I clear my throat. "I do not look fat, guys." Generally speaking, I'm extraordinarily beautiful, if I do say so myself, at twenty-seven free of wrinkles and other common imperfections. But when the lighting is flat, my face looks bloated rather than round, and my nose all but disappears. A little makeup fixes everything. "Yesterday, Daddy said I remind him of his first Porsche."

Emily and Deirdre just stare at me. Saying nothing.

"He was being obtuse," I explain. "Does anybody know the way to the bathroom?"

"We're in your apartment."

"Of course." And then I remember that I've had to pee all night and haven't because it's too much trouble to walk to the bathroom in this state. And I can't face the mirrors everywhere, which never let me lose sight of myself—just when I've managed to escape all the newspapers and magazines and crisscrossed TV signals. That's the merit of alcohol and why the famous always have drinks in their hands at parties. "Somebody pour me more. Please."

A new drink finds its way to my hands, this one light and icy. I hold it up. "To our deaths!"

"To our deaths!" they repeat in unison.

We drink and Deirdre asks Emily about the ad campaign she's working on. Vici Sport. She's an account exec at Taylor Knight, one of their best, apparently, or so she's told us. Vici is her latest coup, accomplished by offering athletes big endorsement money without company permission. She's never worn sneakers a day in her life, doesn't ever plan to, either, and now she's got all these new shoes she's perpetually trying to pawn off on others. She's already given me three pairs, one for tennis, one for running, and one for pentathlons, whatever those are. I've in turn tried to give them to people at the office, but of course they all have different shoe sizes and most of them exercise as little as I do. People always mistake me for a tennis player and a swimmer and a skier. The last time I was in Aspen was when I was seventeen and with Daddy. The last time I was in a pool was when I was twelve. I've never played tennis.

"Product sell-through . . . brand imaging . . . cross-training poodles . . ." Emily's still talking because Deirdre's in human resources and never has anything interesting to say. They've lit cigarettes. I've got one, too. As far as I recall, I don't smoke. My glass is sticky and my mouth tastes of peppermint. I try to ask a question, to find the conversation, but lose my place before words reach my tongue. Deirdre is sorting through the clothing left behind, pocketing a scarf that appeals to her and offering another to Emily.

Emily shakes her head. "You shouldn't steal, Deir. You might get Gloria in trouble."

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 12, 2003

    Whatever Gloria wants....

    ...Gloria gets. Here's a woman whose path you don't want to cross. Keats' description of dismemberment of the body and Gloria's cold hearted agenda make this book go. Readers can be captivated by a woman they dislike at the same time. Well worth the time and money. Just learn from it guys- don't fall for someone like Gloria!

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