Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Story is You

By Megan Abbott.

The third of the three books I bought by Megan Abbott, I was lucky in that this one was by far the best! Unlike the other two, this one doesn't have an almost total emphasis on female characters, it has a regular mystery at its heart, it leans up against certain historical facts and it's got a real hard nosed noir pace to it.

'Hop' Hopkins is a studio problem solver who spends his time fixing things for various famous actors and actresses. One day an old flame comes to see him and relights a two year old mystery which threatens to burn Hop's world. Desperate he moves to put out the flames but as he does he gets deeper and deeper into the smoke and murk of Hollywoods underworld.

James Ellroy is quoted on all three of the Abbott novels I bought, talking about what a brilliant story teller she is, and how she is bound for greatness. Until I read this book, I couldn't see why he'd say that. She's good I thought, but she's not that good. Reading this novel sheds some light. Abbott references several Ellroy favourites, not least the Black Dhalia, Mob boss Cohen, and the dirty dirty lives of publically celebrated stars. I bet this one tickled him in all the right places.

The only problem with this book, and the reason it only gets four stars, is the ending, which I found some what rushed and anti-climactic. I got a sense about three quarters of the way through the story that Abbott had suddenly lost her enthusiasm, which was a shame. Maybe thats why Ellroy wrote she is 'poised' to ascend to the top rung of crime fiction?

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