John Waterhouse – Playwright and Author

The Virago Ladder

Virago Ladder[198900]writing as Jackie Buchanan

The Italian trip for Janus advertising had not gone well for Kate Holden. Having lost an important sales pitch and her arch-rival Emily then being taken out by a suave Italian, Kate was mulling over her situation by the hotel pool when she witnessed a woman being killed. Arriving back in England shaken, Kate is surprised when she boss Felicity tells her to put the events in Italy behind her because she has been selected to go on a development weekend in the Lake District.
The course is both mentally and physically demanding but Kate gets through everything successfully. Over a private dinner, Felicity reveals that the weekend was actually nothing to do with Janus but was a selection process to see if Kate should be invited a join a secret organisation, which could give her unimaginable personal and career opportunities.
Kate is soon initiated into the secret and mysterious world of Virago, a powerful organisation strictly for women only, who are prepared to stop at nothing get on. Virago women help each other climb career ladders and eliminate rivals through a system of favours known as credits. This has a special appeal in relation to Emily, who continues to challenge Kate’s progress.
Kate discovers discipline within Virago is rigidly enforced, with severe penalties for anyone who discloses its secrets outside of the organisation. Members know each other only through secret names chosen at their initiation, and there is a hierarchy with the various levels named from Greek mythology. At Virago meetings, all members wear a mask, boots and a leotard which is, colour coded to denote their Virago level. The secrets of Virago are progressively revealed which as a member advances through the ranks, bring both privileges and responsibilities.
Felicity is admitted to the uppermost Virago degree, the Hera. Only at her initiation does she learn that Emily is also in Virago. The bitter rivalry between Emily and Kate is well known to the Hera and Virago has a system of dealing with disputes between members; the two women must compete in a brutal contest. Felicity had expected to know everything there was to know about Virago upon reaching the Hera but now learns a governing elite, the Morai, whose very existence is kept secret from all below the Hera.
Emily has the opportunity to work for Amalfi, an Italian conglomerate who have just opened a London operation, headed up by the ruthless Sophia Antonelli, whom both she and Kate encountered in Naples. Once she starts working for Amalfi, Emily forms a close association with Claudia, a tough-minded German living in London who has ambitious plans to develop a Middle Eastern network for Amalfi, as well as designs within Virago. Emily now has a chance to both develop a glittering career and get her revenge on Kate.
Soon after Felicity joins the Hera, three women are discovered murdered across London, the only link being that all were found wearing just red leotards; the garment worn at formal Virago meetings by the Hera. Is someone killing off members of the Hera one by one? And if so, is threat coming from within Virago or outside? Kate, Felicity and Emily all discover they had no idea what Virago is really about and that once admitted, you can never leave.