Simon & Schuster, £6.99, ISBN 978-1-47113-420-3
Contemporary Fiction, 2012
The Bitch is a rather pointless sequel to The Stud, and this edition of mine is a revised one – at least, that’s what it says in the author’s foreword. The original edition first came out in 1979, some ten years after The Stud, and no, I have no idea what has been revised in this edition, sorry. Oh, and it’s hard to review this book without giving some spoilers about what happened in The Stud, so avert your eyes if you want to keep them untainted for some time longer.
This time around, we move from London to Las Vegas, where a familiar character is nursing her wounds after the events at the end of The Stud.
Fontaine Khaled is back, although this time around, she’s only her husband’s wife in name only. Her Arab millionaire divorced her using the traditional method of saying “I divorce you!” three times after coming across photographic evidence of Fontaine romping in bed with her favorite toy boys. Cut off from her source of income, Fontaine nonetheless doesn’t let her divorce get to her that much. She still has her hot London nightclub Hobo… except, wait, that nightspot is losing out to the next hottest thing in town. Worse, Fontaine doesn’t give a damn about saving her money or investing what is left of her funds wisely, so it’s not long before she comes dangerously close to being a bankrupt. But she’s Fontaine! Who cares… time to go shopping and looking for new boyfriends! Maybe she should look for a rich older man – ain’t nothing going on but the rent, after all – but she likes her lovers young too much to lower herself that way.
Nico Constantine is an Omar Shariff-lookalike gentleman who has been living the high life after the death of his beloved wife and inheriting her fortune. Like Fontaine, he doesn’t care about saving or investing his money, and he soon finds himself right in bankrupt valley. His attempt to make it big in the casinos of Las Vegas only causes him to become further in debt, and soon he’s on the run from casino owners who behave a little too much like gangsters for Nico’s liking. He leaves behind a higher-on (who desperately wants to be like Nico and gets into his own brand of trouble when he covers up for Nico), and soon Nico crosses path with Fontaine.
You’re probably thinking by now, “Ooh, maybe she and he would try to hustle one another as they imagine the other person is loaded!” Alas, this or any plot that could have fit just as well in this story isn’t present. The author spends way too much time setting up events that, while comical at times, lead to a very disappointing climax. And, unfortunately, I’m not even talking about that kind of climax, as Ms Collins seems to have rushed the last few chapters just to get the whole book out of the way. The characters are still poorly drawn, but for a long time, they are involved in various schemes and plots that can be most amusing to follow. Only, the author just tosses in a half-baked somewhat happy ending when she meets her word count and leaves most of the potential in these plot threads unfulfilled. As a result, I feel like I’ve wasted my time by the time I reach the last page of The Bitch.
On the bright side, at least it’s short and it ends before things become really tedious.