Viciously funny and compulsively readable, Baker’s first adult
novel is a feminist thriller for the #MeToo era.
In their years working in-house
at Dallas sportswear company Truviv, Sloane, Grace, and Ardie, all three
high-powered lawyers, have become not only friends, but a de facto support
group, because they are, by their gender, perennial outsiders. Not that anyone
would say as much, not explicitly. They are not oppressed; they are achieving.
They have good degrees. Their husbands, if they have them, are nice and
supportive. They blow-dry their hair. And yet theirs is an uphill battle,
because they are perennial outsiders in a corporate culture built for men. They
aren’t all bad men. “But even the good ones—especially the good ones?—pretended
not to notice the lines: how much more deference they earned on the phone for
having a male voice,” explains Baker’s Greek workplace chorus. “Or how their
height and stature and morning stubble gave an authoritative weight to their
ideas that ours never had.” The bad ones—the ones who cross lines—are discussed
only in whispers; the stakes are too high to do anything else. Until the women
catch wind of a spreadsheet that’s circulating: The BAD Men List, shorthand for
“Beware of Asshole Dallas Men,” an anonymous document with male names and misdeeds,
ranging from the uncomfortable to the predatory. When Truviv’s CEO dies and
their immediate good ol’ boy boss, Ames Garrett, is put up for the job, Sloane can’t
sit by and do nothing, watching him do to other, younger associates what he once
did to her. But when she adds his name to the list, she can’t possibly
anticipate what will come next. Deliciously campy, the novel is part whodunit
and part revenge fantasy, and Baker’s (This Is Not the End, 2017, etc.)
fondness for over-the-top foreshadowing only serves to enhance the
delightfully ominous mood. It’s a breezy page-turner of a book, which is the
brilliance of it: Under the froth is an unmistakable layer of justified rage.
Over-the-top in all the right ways.