Monday, September 1, 2014

Book Review: Queenpin by Megan Abbott


Author: Megan Abbott
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Date of Publication: June 5, 2007
Pages: 196

     This is a stellar crime novel by multi-faceted author Megan Abbott.  This is classic crime noir with a familiar "good girl gone bad" plot.  What sets this book apart is that the central characters are both women.  It is told in the first person by an unnamed young woman longing to escape her meager background.  She is recruited by Gloria Denton, a notorious mobster who acts as a mentor of all things corrupt.  The young woman's educations is moving right along as she transports cash, betting slips and information between race tracks, betting parlors and offices.  She makes a critical error by falling for Vic Riordan, a slick lady's man and perpetual loser.  Major complications ensue as Vic uses our femme fatale for his own nefarious purpose.  
  This book is written in a compact, no words wasted style which evokes the best of James M Cain and Mickey Spillnae.  There is graphic violence here as well as a constant undertone of sexual tension.  The writing itself is spectacular, conjuring the styles and fashions of the times.  An example from an early exchange between Gloria and her protege:
    "She looked at me in that icy way of hers.  Then in a flash of the hand, she tugged open her crepe de chine jacket, buttons poppping.  There, on her pale, filmy skin, skeined over with thready wrinkles, I saw the burn marks, long, jagged, slipping behind her bra clasp, slithering down her sternum."  

     This is writing strong enough to earn this author a Best Paperback Original Edgar Award in 2008.  Megan Abbott has also been nominated for the Steel Dagger, The L.A. Times Book Award and The Pushcart Prize.  The lady can write.  If you are a crime fiction fan, especially the classics, you will surely enjoy Queenpin.

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