This is how Nirvana Bites was summed up in the official Orion press release for the trade paperback version published in June 2003.
Jen is trying to get a job at the BBC but her chances are thwarted by her prospective employer, Stanley Highshore. In a delicate emotional state after being blackmailed, he’s up a ladder in his BBC office clad in very little and with his numerous piercings on show. Jen recognises him as Stapled Stan – a regular on the south London S&M scene. Terrified that his seedy secrets will be disclosed, and his life as the respectable husband of a Conservative MP is in jeopardy Jen is enlisted to find and confront his blackmailers.
After an encounter with two armed men (who she fights off with the judicious use of a couple of fire extinguishers and an axe!) Jen seeks the help of her Nirvana Housing Co-op neighbours. It soon becomes clear that an inconspicuous aquatic shop, Koi Korner, is hiding some dark secrets.
Fast-paced and witty, NIRVANA BITES features numerous sub-cultures – from New Agers to new technology buffs, from anarchists to fascists, from animal rights activists to abattoir workers, from media executives to transsexual fetishists. Bursting with energy, it’s a brilliantly observed comic triumph and heralds the arrival of a highly individual and hilarious new voice.
And this is how it was summed up on the cover of the mass marketing paperback version.
Imagine you have a job interview. And the last time you saw the interviewer, they were clad in full black leather, pierced, studded and masked. This is what happens to Jen when she applies to become a BBC Researcher and comes face to face with Stanley Highshore, top-ranking BBC executive and spouse of a Tory MP – but better know to some as ‘Stapled Stan’. Stan is beset by problems. His production suite has fallen foul of a bunch of eco-warriors and his secret sex life might not be secret for much longer. Stan enlists Jen as his private investigator. It soon becomes clear that the local aquatic shop, Koi Korner, is trading in much more than exotic fish. Comic and fast-paced, with a memorable cast of weirdos and misfits, Nirvana Bites is a brilliant debut from a daring new talent.