To quote designer Pierre Hardy, "People love a high heel because it is not natural. It is a cultural object connected with seduction, power, and sexuality." Well, maybe. I do agree that it is not natural. If God had meant me to be six feet tall, he would have given me longer legs.

Killer Heels might sound like the next title in my series of "girl gumshoe" murder mysteries, but it isn't. In reading the review of a book with that name by Lisa Small, I gather that it is a serious look at the Art of the High-Heeled Shoe (the subtitle) and based on an exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum.

Ginger Rogers, who famously complained that she did everything that Fred Astaire did -- backwards, and in high heels -- would tower over him in today's designer shoes. Not to mention the agony of trying to dance in them!

My own experience with such things began at my high school graduation. Back then it was trendy to wear high-heeled spectator pumps with your cap and gown. My mother advised me to practice walking in them a few times, but I didn't listen. When my name was called by the master of ceremonies, I tripped halfway up the steps to the stage and fell (unceremoniously) into the arms of the boy behind me.

Another near-calamity was in London, during an era when heels had become "spikes," and I got mine caught in an iron grate in the sidewalk. It took a couple of helpful passers-by to pull me loose.

I can recall one murder allegedly done with a pair of shoes as lethal weapons, which is why I thought Killer Heels would make a good title for a mystery. The case involved a woman who stomped her husband to death in her sharp, stiletto heels.

But back to the book in question. I confess that I have not read it because, for one thing, it costs $55. To a real "fashionista," I can imagine its being worth that much. For some, it might just be the ultimate in coffee table books and conversation pieces. I did peek inside it on Amazon.com, and found it intriguing. The review I read notes that it contains more than 100 lavish illustrations and several essays that trace the history of heels from ancient Greece to modern-day Paris and New York.

The reviewer also claims that men who read the book will find the answer to the "age-old question" of why women need so many pairs of shoes. I wasn't aware that we did, with the possible exception of Imelda Marcos, former first lady of the Philippines, who is reputed to have owned over a hundred pairs. More interesting to me would be knowing why men are attracted to women staggering around on 5- or 6-inch stilts that throw their whole body out of alignment. Does the book have an answer to that, I wonder?

Whether Killer Heels is worth the cost depends on how much you want a "sexy, fun and luxurious" look at the history of high heels which is also "eye candy and thought-provoking," according to the review.

Personally, I'd rather pay $55 for something I could wear, like a sexy pair of sandals (low-heeled).

About the Author

EE Smith

E. E. Smith is a playwright and book author. Her new series of murder mysteries debuted in 2013. The first is titled Death by Misadventure. 

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