[29 August 2007]
The Philadelphia Inquirer (MCT)
Somebody killed Daddy, but who? That’s the big question in former attorney Tasmina Perry’s first novel, Daddy’s Girls. The man who’s been assisting Lord Oswald Balcon with his memoir thinks it was one of his four daughters. But why would one of the Balcon sisters want to kill the man behind all of their successes?
Serena, the youngest, is revered as London’s most beautiful actress. Cate recently co-launched her own travel-and-leisure magazine, Sand. Camilla is making a new path for herself in politics. And Venetia, the oldest, is married to the wealthy and reputable Jonathon von Bismarck and has just taken her career as an interior designer to a whole new level by introducing her own clothing line.
As Perry, recently deputy editor in chief of InStyle U.K., flashes back 10 months, you almost forget about Oswald’s foreshadowed death, and cease to care, as the scandalous lives of Serena, Catherine, Camilla and Venetia draw you in like a combination of “Sex and the City” and “Desperate Housewives”: steamy sexual rendezvous in parking lots, yacht parties peopled with only the Who’s Who of London, and fashion shows in New York City graced by names like Manolo Blahnik and Donna Karan.
But, as careers are lost, relationships ruined, and deception, heartache, and betrayal of the worst kind slowly creep into the lives of each Balcon sister, they begin to realize that ever since the death of their mother, they’ve been living as puppets in Huntsford Castle, with their father relentlessly pulling every string.
He was the one keeping Venetia from fulfilling her dream of opening a location for her designs in New York, and it was he who pushed away the love of her life, while pushing onto her a man she later realized didn’t just—as she’d suspected—love only himself.
Oswald was the reason Cate had such a difficult time raising enough funds to jump-start her magazine, and he constantly mocked her career choice—as he did that of Camilla, who left her job as a lawyer to pursue politics.
Not even Serena, Oswald’s favorite among the four—thanks to her porcelain beauty and constant media attention—was exempt from Daddy’s controlling ways.
Perry’s mystery slowly unfolds behind the ostensibly glamorous lives of these blondes whom everyone in London—and shortly in America—loves to hate. And the question changes to, “Why wouldn’t one of the Balcon sisters want to kill their father?”
Each has a motive, as David Loftus—the fellow helping with the memoir—is quick to remind them, especially Camilla, who shared with her father a haunting secret. Eager to prove Loftus wrong and free themselves from any speculation about what really happened the night Serena found Oswald lying face down in the moat outside their home on Christmas Eve, the Balcon sisters set out to find the truth.
Instead, they learn that their lives were even more of a mystery than they ever could have imagined, as they uncover the truth about their parents’ relationship, their father’s business transactions, and one another.
Perry’s novel is a glossy, first-class murder mystery. The odd thing about it, though, is that you become so wrapped up in the lives of Oswald Balcon’s daughters and their affection for one another that concern over their father’s murder diminishes with each chapter.