Friday, May 12, 2006

Die a Little -- Megan Abbott

Cool cover, right? It looks like something that might be on one of the sleazy digests of the '50s, I think, very appropriate given the book's '50s setting and its subject matter.

Megan Abbott copped an Edgar nomination for Die a Little, which is a noir story about Lora King, a school teacher who lives with her cop brother, Bill, and quite happily, too. (Though it's never spelled out, I got the idea that Lora's feelings for Bill were a little more than sisterly, if you know what I mean and I think you do.) Eventually Bill falls for Alice Steele, who's no school teacher. She's been part of the dark underside of Los Angeles, but now she's reforming. Or is she? She gets a job teaching school, but little bits of her past keep popping up here and there, like her friend Lois.

Bill and Lora don't know about Alice's past, but Lora is curious, and maybe driven by something else, too. She starts to investigate. The more she finds out, the sleazier things become, and eventually Lois disappears. Lora supects murder, and she's drawn closer and closer to the dark side, which has a strange attraction for her. I'm not telling what happens and spoil the story for you.

I didn't detect any anachronisms the way I did in Dope, another recent novel with a '50s setting. My only complaint about Die a Little is the names. Lois and Lora. Why have two major characters with such similar names? Sometimes that's confusing to an old guy like me. Maybe there's some literary reason that escapes me. While the book didn't win the Edgar, it's easy to see why it was a strong contender. It'll be interesting to see where Megan Abbott goes next.


Writeprocrastinator said...

This is a great book and also how I got over to here. Sarah Weinman was one of the only two Meg Abbot interviews that were available at the time online.

After the interview I checked out her "Confessions" site, which led me to Duane Swierczynki, who praised your blog up and down.

Unknown said...

Glad you found your way here. Obviously Duane is a man of taste and discernment. Good writer, too.