The VIPs (Broadway Books/Random House), Scott Poulson-Bryant’s first novel, is no let-down. The author must have spent many a night watching soap-operas and mini-series’ in the 80s. If so, it paid off. He writes with ease and an eager pace, giving you season-finale style cliff-hangers after every chapter. Fans of Shirley Conran’s Lace, the classic 80s bestseller and mini-series, will be pleased with this book. Borrowing from Conran’s book’s icily yearning question, “Which one of you bitches is my mother?” Poulson-Bryant has top-of-the world rapper TNT ask that of four successful, ambitious, handsome New York men, whom he has reunited for an answer. As in Lace, this inquiry also takes place in the suite of a Manhattan hotel: “Which one of you bastards is my father?” And so begins the jump back-and-forth in time exploring how the four men met as boys, their insecurities, first loves, family squabbles, rise to the top of their respective fields and their search for manhood. Barry, Duke, Joey and Leo have all made it in their careers–writing, cosmetics marketing, pro football and fashion design. The journey glides from New York City to Sag Harbour to Miami to London and back, adding layers of insight to the thickening plot. I can already see who would play some of the lead characters, including the part of Carla, the to-the-point beauty model who came of age with the boys as well as the scheming and scamming foster-mother, the arrogant cosmetics-company founder and his elegant wife. Jackie Collins and E. Lynn Harris would be proud.
The VIPs is the perfect beach-read. A modern, fast-paced page-turner that does not require too much of the reader but rewards them with juicy tidbits of class, homophobia, bisexuality, set-ups, cover-ups, abortions, fashion shows, conspiracy, love-found, lost family secrets and, of course, murder. Even though a few of the plot twists are predictable, Poulson -Bryant has an ability to make you not care that you see some them coming pages before they happen.
Having written for numerous music, fashion and lifestyle magazines, Poulson-Bryant draws from his experience to create a world where the VIPs’ actions do not seem fake or overly ostentatious. Is the novel high-art? No. But it stands on its own well-constructed melodramatic merits.
by Scott Poulson-Bryant Broadway Books/Random House Paperback, 9781566892544, 384 pp. July 2011