Excerpt from If Looks Could Kill by Kate White, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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If Looks Could Kill

by Kate White

If Looks Could Kill by Kate White X
If Looks Could Kill by Kate White
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  • First Published:
    Apr 2002, 320 pages
    May 2003, 405 pages


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The only consolation was that I was getting an early start on the day. Besides, I really didn't have much choice but to indulge Cat on this one. She was not only my friend, but also partly responsible for the fantastic little career I had today, at the age of thirty-three. She'd made me a contributing writer to her magazine, Gloss, one of the so-called Seven Sister magazines, which had once specialized in running recipes for chicken dishes made with cream of mushroom soup and profiles of women who'd spent the best parts of their lives trying to get toxic dump sites removed from their towns, but under Cat had metamorphosed into something worthy of its name—a juicy, glossy thing with sexy fashion portfolios, down-and-dirty guides to making your husband moan in the rack, and fascinating crime stories and human dramas. And I got to write those stories. Not the make-him-moan ones—but the crime stories and human-interest dramas, tales about serial killers and vanishing wives and coeds killed and stuffed in fifty-gallon drums by the professors they'd been having affairs with.

I was grateful to Cat, but it was fair to say she got her money's worth. I was good at what I did, and my stories pulled in readers and won awards, and a book publisher just recently decided to package twelve of them together as an anthology.

Cat and I met seven years ago, at a little downtown magazine called Get, circulation seventy-five thousand, which focused on New York City happenings—the arts, culture, society, scandal, and crime, not necessarily in that order. Up until then I'd been at newspapers, starting, after college at Brown, on the police beat at the Albany Times Union and moving on to the Bergen County Record in New Jersey. I loved anything to do with crime, though I'm not sure why. My father died when I was only twelve, and my ex-husband once suggested that my fascination with the macabre was born then. I'm more inclined to think it stems from an experience I had as a high school freshman. Someone began leaving nasty notes for me in my desk and in my locker, and rather than just take it, I methodically figured out who the sender was (a girl), and the thrill that came from solving that mystery was totally empowering. Eventually I realized that magazines would offer me more stylistic freedom than newspapers, and I found my way to New York City and the newly created Get.

I met Cat, known as Catherine then, the first day on the job. She was deputy editor, four years older than me, and though she supervised mostly the celeb and arts stuff, not the gritty pieces I wrote, I got to see her strut her stuff in meetings. She took a liking to me, maybe because I didn't fawn over her like so many people, and over time she began coming into my little office, closing the door and confiding in me about office politics and the complications that came from dating several men at the same time, including a married one with two kids. She had recognized me as a secret keeper, a rare breed in New York. Once, I even flew to Barbados with her because she wanted to keep Jeff, whom she'd been dating for four months, hot and bothered. What did I get out of the relationship? I was totally dazzled by her, by her ambition and total self-assurance and the fearless way she asked for what she wanted.

After I'd been at Get for just a year, the editor in chief resigned in a major snit because the owner was pressuring him to kill a snarky story about a friend. The ten of us remaining on staff stood around in the hall that afternoon, wondering what the hell we should do, until Cat suggested we should all quit, too, in a show of solidarity. And so we did. That night we gathered in a bar with the editor, who bought us rounds of drinks and told us we'd be talked about in journalism schools for years to come. I wanted to feel giddy and important, but all I could do was wonder if I still had dental insurance, since I was only halfway through a very nasty root canal treatment. Cat, on the other hand, looked preternaturally calm, leaning against the bar with her martini and a cigarette. Three days later it was announced that she was the new editor in chief of Get.

Copyright © 2002 by Kate White

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