Megan Abbott's fine story in Damn Near Dead, "Policy," is the basis for this novel, which expands on the story's ideas and characters. The unnamed narrator is 22 years old, and she's taken in hand by Gloria Denton, a woman well up in the mob hierarchy in a gambling town. Gloria teaches her how to dress and act, not to mention how to pick up pay-offs and distribute winnings. When the narrator meets Gloria, her first though is, "I want the legs." But that's not all she wants. Whatever she has, her next thought is, "I want more." And, as it turns out, she doesn't care how she gets it. The Life is what she was born for, what she is.
She's doing just fine until she meets Vic, an unfortunate meeting for both of them. It leads eventually to a scene of shocking violence, and to other things as well. You can almost see it unspooling as a black and white movie with voice-over narration. If you think you know what's coming because you've read "Policy," you don't. Get the book, and you'll see why Ken Bruen calls Megan Abbott "the new Queen of Noir."