Occasionally you read a book that takes you completely out of your comfort zone. Untouchable was one such read. It tells the story of Stella, an escort, who operates at the high end of London’s sex trade industry. She’s matter of fact about her job. She does it for the money although, from the very beginning, hints are given about a trauma in her past. When, Elisa, a fellow call girl is murdered, Stella’s initial response is simply to meet with the girl’s partner, give her condolences and not get involved any further. But there are a number of strange factors leading up to Elisa’s death that suggests her murder wasn’t by one of her clients. Stella gradually becomes drawn into the Elisa’s dark secrets and puts her own life in danger.
Untouchable is a fascinating read. The first third of the book which introduces Stella, the world within which she operates and the men who use the services of prostitutes is absolutely fascinating. Stella’s clinical approach to what she does allows the read to step outside the narrative and take an overview of the build up of tension. There are fascinate vignettes. The girls use false names and when their private and professional lives occasionally interact there’s confusion over which identity to use. Marsh could have gone down the road of using Stella’s past trauma as an excuse/easy explanation as to why she enters prostitution. It’s to the writer’s credit that it feels far more subtle than that.
Untouchable is an engrossing read and a bit different from the usual crime fiction on offer. I highly recommend it.