Reviewed by Christina M. Hinke
"The Agency", Ally O’Brien. St. Martins Press. $24.95. (304p) ISBN 978-0-312-37944-5
Nov. 24, 2008
In this disconnected debut from O'Brien (collaborative pseudonym for a media agent and a suspense novelist), driven London literary agent Tess Drake is an antihero so aggressive and egocentric that she repels friends (and perhaps readers). Steely Tess has the lonely top agent's spot at the Bartwright mega-agency, but pines for her own agency. When the head of Bartwright dies in a compromising position, the Miranda Priestly/Anna Wintour/Cruella DeVille-type who steps in is Cosima Tate, whose husband happens to be one of the men Tess is sleeping with. This spurs Tess's solo plans into action, but it's not long before her gravy train-a bestselling talking-panda children's book author-is derailed by plagiarism accusations. Tess's long shot is an underselling debut novel by 29-year-old Oliver Howard that may net a film deal with Tom Cruise (whose agent Tess has, of course, already burned). The whirlwind drama delves with vigor into reliably stimulating big-city pursuits-sex, power, scene-making, celebrity-but the sadly familiar media-world trappings and distant main character make caring about any of it a difficult proposal. (Feb.)
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