Rachel Holtner is your average New Yorker whose life took a strange turn. It started out as just another winter Saturday. A leisurely morning abed with husband and coffee, a quick stop at Bloomingdale's, and then the movies. What could go wrong?
By day's end, Rachel Holtner's been arrested for felonious assault and inciting a riot. She's been hospitalized for an acute allergy attack (by perfume). As if that weren't enough, Rachel soon discovers she's suffering from a previously unknown genetic disease: Shopping Impairment Syndrome (S.I.S.).
The symptoms are claustrophobia, impatience and an inability to tolerate delays or inefficiencies. Unfortunately, this Disease du Jour manifests most commonly in department stores and shopping malls, hence the name. Its primary victims: affluent, educated, pre-menopausal women in their prime earning and spending years.
S.I.S. is the medical creation of Dr. Now (a.k.a. David Halberman, M.D.), a brilliant opportunist who's hell bent on fame and fortune. Dr. Now uses his findings to terrify the Retail Federation of America (i.e. every department store across the country) as it scrambles to protect market share. The notion of women going berserk in department stores is guaranteed to generate ulcers and sleepless nights for retail executives.
Maximizing their bottom line fears of an S.I.S. epidemic, Dr. Now extorts millions of dollars in research grants to stem this perfidious affliction. In Rachel, he's found the prototypical Shopper Zero. Along with six other women arrested on the day dubbed by the press as Mascara Saturday, Rachel is forced to attend Dr. Now's lame recovery program for impaired shoppers. (“My name is Rachel, and I hate to shop.”)
But Dr. Now soon finds that uppity women are not nearly as docile or cooperative as laboratory animals. His prescription for their recovery proves to be the formula for his own downfall.
Outside his clinic, the tabloids have a field day with Rachel’s depressingly normal life. Long lost acquaintances and friends emerge to give Rachel a far more scandalous history than she could have possibly lived. Her new found celebrity proves irresistible to spurned boyfriends searching for their 15 minutes of fame by association.
They’re not the only ones who want a piece of Shopper Zero. Muscling in on Rachel’s criminal and civil travails is the legendary litigator Catherine “Madcat” Bingleigh, a lawyer who proves as manipulative and narcissistic as Dr. Now.
Can Rachel and the rest of the Shopping Seven finesse a victory over Dr. Now? Is there life after tabloids? The answers to these and other metaphysical questions are revealed in Carol Conn’s novel, MASCARA SATURDAY.