From its absolutely gorgeous, period-perfect cover to its evocative portrait of the 1940s Hollywood studio system in action, Megan Abbott’s new novel is a sensual feast. “Hop was rarely surprised these days,” Abbott says of Gil Hopkins, a once-promising journalist, now a studio flack who knows where all the bodies are buried because he buried most of them himself. Her other main player is a young starlet who really existed: Jean Spangler, a sexy-longlegs who disappeared one night and was never seen again. The papers called her “Daughter of Black Dahlia,” connecting Spangler to another notorious disappearance. Abbott makes this single mother of a five-year-old girl a deeply touching and fully understandable young woman: knowing the dangers of having little talent other than her looks but still thinking she can survive in a very twisted world. Hopkins has some damaging knowledge of his own about that world: he was probably responsible for bringing about Spangler’s fate. It’s only when a friend of Jean’s appears from the past does his own guilt begin to percolate, and when that girl also disappears he is forced into action almost against his will. A famed song-and-dance team who specialize in rough sex are among the culprits, as are Gil’s ex-wife and a blackmail ring that takes advantage of the creepy mileu to make their own failed Hollywood dreams come true.
About the Writer
Dick Adler reviews crime fiction for the Chicago Tribune, Publishers Weekly, The Rap Sheet and his own blog, theknowledgeableblogger.blogspot.com.