Synopses & Reviews
By the author of Dare Me and The End of Everything
Femmes fatales. Obsessive love. Double crosses. How does a respectable young woman fall into Los Angeles’s hard-boiled underworld?
Shadow-dodging through the glamorous world of 1950s Hollywood and its seedy flip side, Megan Abbott’s debut, Die a Little, is a gem of the darkest hue. This ingenious twist on a classic noir tale tells the story of Lora King, a schoolteacher, and her brother Bill, a junior investigator with the district attorney’s office. Lora’s comfortable, suburban life is jarringly disrupted when Bill falls in love with a mysterious young woman named Alice Steele, a Hollywood wardrobe assistant with a murky past.
Made sisters by marriage but not by choice, the bond between Lora and Alice is marred by envy and mistrust. Spurred on by inconsistencies in Alice’s personal history and possibly jealous of Alice’s hold on her brother, Lora finds herself lured into the dark alleys and mean streets of seamy Los Angeles. Assuming the role of amateur detective, she uncovers a shadowy world of drugs, prostitution, and ultimately, murder.
Lora's fascination with Alice’s "sins" increases in direct proportion to the escalation of her own relationship with Mike Standish, a charmingly amoral press agent who appears to know more about his old friend Alice than he reveals. The deeper Lora digs to uncover Alice’s secrets, the more her own life begins to resemble Alice’s sinister past—and present.
Steeped in atmospheric suspense and voyeuristic appeal, Die a Little shines as a dark star among Hollywood lights.
"A velvety 1950s Southern California vibe suffuses this noirish novel about a young woman who sacrifices her own innocence while trying to protect her brother from the seamy side of life. Orphaned when they were children, Bill and Lora King live together well into adulthood, until Bill meets Alice Steele, a beautiful damsel in distress whose mysterious past and even more mysterious present set off alarms for Lora. Ere long Bill, a junior investigator in the district attorney's office, proposes to Alice and the two marry, but Lora becomes increasingly sure there's more to Alice's murky past than the alcoholic mother and deadbeat father she talks about. 'Under the harsh lamp, in sharp contrast to the dark room, her eyes look strangely eaten through. The eyes of a death mask...' Lora makes self-deprecating Nancy Drew jokes even as she initiates a personal investigation, skulking around seedy motor courts and hiding in alleys. What the likable Lora discovers drugs, sex, corruption and murder fascinates her as much as it frightens her. Abbott, author of a nonfiction study of hard-boiled literature and film, crafts a stylish, sensuous tale with picture-perfect period trappings. Agent, Paul Cirone at the Aaron Priest Literary Agency. (Feb.) Forecast: Fifties fetishists (even collectors) will love Abbott's elaborate mise-en-scnes: 'Pyrex hostess sets for picnics on back lawns, Klise Frosted Oak relish boats and cheese boards with Lucite inserts, Manta Ray centerpiece bowls with a chic black glaze....'" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
About the Author
Megan Abbott has taught literature, writing, and film at New York University and the State University of New York at Oswego. She received her Ph.D. in English and American literature from New York University in 2000, and in 2002 Palgrave Macmillan published her nonfiction study, The Street Was Mine: White Masculinity in Hardboiled Fiction and Film Noir. She lives in New York City.