Dan Jones

Running on envy

Deadly Sins, by Nicholas Coleridge

Please, someone give me a pound for every PR floozy who’s told me over breakfast that she’s ‘writing a novel’ about the dirty world of, er, PR. One minute you’re sucking up a nice creamy plate of scrambled eggs at the Wolseley, the next you’re trying to control your acid reflux. (But control it you must; she’s paying.)

I have spent so much time shuddering at the very thought of these ditzies’ unwritten books that to read Nicholas Coleridge’s splendidly realised tale of sexy beastliness in the world of corporate communications — and to find it captivating, pacy and scandalous — was a blessed relief. I cackled like a zany as I flipped the pages late into the night.

Miles Straker is a tyrant and a snob. His company, Straker Communications, specialises in keeping wealthy and glamorous clients either in or out of the newspapers. He prides himself on his superior taste, his fabulous garden parties and his powerful network of contacts. He makes it his business to be better briefed and better connected than the next man. He is also fond of a bunk-up with the next man’s wife. His tongue is by turns velvety and forked. He terrorises his family, and at home his favourite phrase is ‘I forbid it!’

Although he is essentially a bloodsucker, a tic on the skin of the wealthy and successful, Straker cannot bear to see anyone else doing better than him. In this he is reminiscent of Daniel Plainview, the anti-hero of the 2007 film There Will Be Blood (‘I have a competition in me … I want no one else to succeed.

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