14 January 2008

DIE A LITTLE by Megan Abbott

The King family, Lora the schoolteacher and her brother Bill a policeman had always lived together, a peaceful co-existence, and together they were a team. That is, until Alice Steele almost crashed her car into his. And from that point on Bill was a goner: he and Alice decide to marry just 5 months later. Right from the start, Lora feels that Alice is not to be trusted, that there is something rotten underneath the bright and breezy, glamorous fa├žade. Alice has been a Hollywood wardrobe assistant, but Lora gets her a job as a home economics teacher at the school she herself teaches at. This should give them a chance to get to know each other better, but Lora becomes increasingly suspicious of what Alice does, especially after she disappears during the school day. Finally Alice's true colours emerge, and now it is not a question of Bill looking out for Lora as he's done all of his life, but of her saving him.

This book has been classified by some as modern noir. Set in 1950s Hollywood, its setting and style both evoke a period that we rarely encounter in a modern novel. And yet this is Megan Abbott's debut. There is some clever writing.

To tell the truth, I struggled with this book, and began to wonder why I was reading it. Over on 4 Mystery Addicts, we have been categorising what sort of reader we are, what sort of books we prefer, ranging from cozy on one end of the spectrum to noir on the other. Now I read the occasional cozy, love my police procedurals, but if this is noir, then it is not a category that I enjoy.

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