House of Beauty
Nails, lips, brows. Wax, tweeze, thread. Full leg, half leg, bikini line. Half hour, one hour, one night. Massage, misogyny, murder.Welcome to House of Beauty.Karen will be taking care of you today.Relax. Turn off your phone. Whatever you tell Karen will stay in this cubicle. She’ll listen to you. She listens to all the women she sees here.Perhaps she’ll talk about her own life. Why is she so desperate for money? What is she so afraid of? And what does she know about Sabrina Gusman, the teenager who has been found dead?Can you keep a secret?

House of Beauty Details

TitleHouse of Beauty
Author
ReleaseMar 3rd, 2018
PublisherFourth Estate
ISBN-139780008264239
Rating
GenreMystery, Crime, Unfinished

House of Beauty Review

  • Eleanor
    January 1, 1970
    Oh, man. I so badly wanted House of Beauty to be good. A crime novel revolving around a Bogotá beauty salon, featuring the murder of a schoolgirl and a coverup by corrupt officials involved in massive healthcare fraud? The idea of a salon as a place where women go to tell each other things and feel safe, where the world of men cannot—for a brief while—intrude? Yes please. And Fourth Estate is publishing it, so I got a NetGalley proof, trusting. I was wrong to trust.Part of the problem—and I don’ Oh, man. I so badly wanted House of Beauty to be good. A crime novel revolving around a Bogotá beauty salon, featuring the murder of a schoolgirl and a coverup by corrupt officials involved in massive healthcare fraud? The idea of a salon as a place where women go to tell each other things and feel safe, where the world of men cannot—for a brief while—intrude? Yes please. And Fourth Estate is publishing it, so I got a NetGalley proof, trusting. I was wrong to trust.Part of the problem—and I don’t speak Spanish, but I understand a little—is, I think, the translation. Dialogue sounds stilted, motivation is explained with cartoonish specificity. Worst of all, it’s just confusing. The book is being told from the perspective of two women, Claire and Lucía, who are upper-middle-class Bogotáns, after the events have already played out; but there’s nothing to mark their points of view apart, so I was frequently startled by hearing Claire apparently refer to herself, then realise that Lucía was now speaking. We also get third-person chapters from the perspective of Karen, a beautician at the eponymous salon; from Sabrina Guzmán, the girl who dies; and from Sabrina’s mother, Consuelo. But none of them really move us towards an understanding of the crime: we arrive at that understanding only because we get to see into everyone’s heads, which characters in the book cannot do, so their deductions are unearned. The ending, meanwhile, had me staring at my phone in baffled rage, wanting to throw the thing against a wall—not because it’s incomplete, but because it suddenly partakes of the grossest stereotype. I think this is meant to make us feel differently about one of the narrators—which it sure did—but again, it felt unearned. In between the disorienting points of view and the leaps in plot, there are some interesting and upsetting things being said in House of Beauty about contemporary Colombian society, and the place of women (especially dark-skinned women) within it, but there’s just too much getting in the reader’s way.
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  • Roman Clodia
    January 1, 1970
    Steeped in a noir atmosphere, this has potential but the writing (or translation?) is flat and engaging, and the prose style is stilted and just doesn't flow. The narrative voices weren't convincing to me, and the whole thing feels flimsy and superficial.
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  • Jess Richardson
    January 1, 1970
    This is an interesting read which throws a different angle on things but I was quite frustrated by the ending and not in a good way.
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