Verdict: SIZE ZERO is an excellent thriller that takes the reader on a nourish ride through the fashion world of drug-taking hopelessly anorexic models and the corporate fashionistas who control them.
SIZE ZERO involves a cold case crime whose previously-missing girl/victim is literally stitched into a coat worn by a model on the runway. The accused, former boyfriend and the well-coiffed Cecile Le Claire, becomes the Cary Grant figure in North By Northwest; completely out of his depth in attempting to solve the crime he is accused of. It is only with the assistance of an ex-con, and of course beautiful, Ava Germaine, that he is able to solve the mystery by following the money.
A familiar feature of our era is the tell-all books by former fashion models. In their retelling, readers are privy to the anorexia, drug-taking rat race involved in staying at the top of their game. The closet cousin to this business, in almost every facet, is the adult film industry. Both employ drug-taking females, who are dominated and objectified by males, and are pushed aside when a younger model enters the scene.
With her damaged and deranged females, Moyer will no doubt be compared to Gillian Flynn, author of the bestselling GONE GIRL. But her true model is Raymond Chandler, for she uses the same cold-case plot device. Moreover, she has his gift for image (i.e., an eyeball rolling down a runway), and commentary without losing any of the pace that is essential to the thriller. Chandler’s commentary was about L.A. and its big business rulers; Moyer’s is a fashion industry that has been stubbornly resistant to any feminism.
Moyer shows just how corrupt and manipulative and damaging the model industry is to females. The poor soul who wears the skin coat that the previously missing Annabelle Leigh is literally stitched into is a Hungarian orphan promised the world by a modeling recruiter:
“You’re going to be so famous,” the agent whispered. “Like Tyra Banks and Twiggy. Imagine it now. The Plaza Hotel, a photo shoot with Glamorama, you in Louis Vuitton. Give me six months. Six months and you’ll be wearing a mink coat and sipping champagne.”
But six months later, she is not shipping champagne, but maintaining her anorexic figure by eating orange juice-soaked cotton balls and a breakfast consisting solely of cocaine. It is quickly apparent to readers that the model, Karolina, would have been better off staying in the orphanage.
Moyer does a superb job of merging the fashion industry with the crime thriller. In addition to the genius device of having a model garbed in a skin coat (against her will), killers, and witnesses to crimes have a fashion sense; murderers brandish Missoni dress bags, witnesses hide their faces in mink coats, and all the while emaciated models parade by on the runway wearing the latest in gas masks and condom dresses.
The closest comparison I can come to SIZE ZERO is the film, The Eyes of Laura Mars. In the tale, Faye Dunaway plays a fashion photographer at the top of her game whose specialty is photographing the beautiful posing at simulated crime scenes. The conceit of the film was that Dunaway is able to witness murders through the killer’s eyes. But what the film-makers of Mars accomplished visually, Moyer is able to convey with the printed word. And that is a much more difficult task which she pulls off admirably.
~Ron Capshaw for IndieReader