Die a Little, by Megan Abbott

Book 14
Utter_scoundrel recently recommended Die a Little, by Megan Abbott, and he is the master of all books that can be described as “noir” “pulp” and “hard boiled”.  What the hell does “hard boiled” mean, anyway?  It happened to be on my bookshelf.

Lora King’s BFF (and roommate) is her brother, Bill.  Bill marries Alice, the charming young lady with the dark past of the L.A. nightlife variety.  The story is about how it catches up with her and how Lora deals.

What makes this book absolutely rock is that no one is drawn in black or white.  The good guys aren’t always good and the bad guys seem relatively reasonable.  No one turned me off with outright stupidity.

Mike Standish, the guy Lora dates (or whatever) is a great example.  You know he is sort of …sleazy isn’t quite the right word.  Slippery?  Slick?  He is into some bad stuff, any way you look at it.  But at the same time, I rather believed that he genuinely liked Lora.  As opposed to overtly using her, or keeping an eye on her or keeping her out of the way.  Or even taking advantage of her.  His motives are never exactly clear to the reader, and I suspect they weren’t entirely clear to him.

And you might say that about every character in the thing.

I like that the relationship between the sisters-in-law is slightly complicated.  They both want to like each other and both seem to make an effort.  Abbott avoids the obvious “I never trusted her” attitude in favor of something more subtle.  “I knew she had a past.”  But Lora never questions Alice’s feelings Bill. 

The pacing is also really good.  It is slow to set the stage.  It builds the relationships.  Then it hits the moment of “here we go” and I didn’t put it down again until I was done.

I like those books.

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