Other People’s Clothes

Doubleday. Feb. 2022. 320p. ISBN 9780385547352. $28. THRILLER
DEBUT Zoe, an NYU art student in the throes of grief after the murder of her best friend Ivy, opts for a year abroad in 2008 to study in Berlin. She and her new roommate, mildly obsessive Hailey, move into an oddly furnished apartment owned by potboiler novelist Beatrice Beck. It is not long before they come to believe Beatrice is spying on them in an effort to come up with material for her next novel. In response, they decide to perform their own story. Designing flamboyant parties that rival Cabaret, heavy drug use, sexual experimentation, and other hedonistic pursuits make them almost famous. Then they discover the hidden door. Zoe and Hailey aspire to create art, but instead spin out of control. Hailey is fascinated with Ivy’s murder and the trial of Amanda Knox. Zoe questions her sexuality. The plot slowly builds to a crescendo touching on matters of friendship, art, celebrities, drugs and sexuality, and ultimately murder—all set against the backdrop of Berlin’s wild nightlife.
VERDICT Henkel, an American playwright, director, and artist living in Berlin, provides a peek into the city’s art world and its communities of expats. Her multilayered debut is capably written.
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