Die A Little/ Queenpin [books]
"She didn't even need to show her face or have a voice to demand complete attention." Die A Little
Die A Little, the first of Abbott’s books that I read, didn’t grab me. I felt it was too overblown, emotionally unrealistic, but I have felt that about some vintage films and books too (The Blue Dahlia [film] and Laura [novel] spring to mind). Essentially it’s a tale of repressed 1950s schoolteacher Lora (the narrator) disliking her policeman brother’s new wife, Alice, and doing some digging into a very murky past, only to find herself becoming more like Alice than she likes to admit. Rapidly she sinks into a world of nightclubs, drugs and the shadier side of the film industry.
Queenpin is set in a nameless town in the early 1960s, and again is narrated by the protagonist, a young woman who dives eagerly into the murky waters of racketeering when taken under the wing of an ageing ice queen who works for the mob. I liked Queenpin a lot more, possibly because it made more sense for the characters to behave in the way they did; Lora’s descent into ruthless criminality in Die A Little is too much, too fast, for someone who’d previously been upright and law-abiding and shown no real inclination to be anything else, whereas for the nameless hoodlette in Queenpin it is a more natural progression.
I would definitely recommend Queenpin, but I’m still undecided on Die A Little. I do have the urge to go back and read the earlier book to see if I missed something, though, and if you can find a copy cheap, give it a whirl.
Source of books: Die A Little, bought for full price from local Waterstones. Queenpin, bought for £2.50 from Oxfam bookshop.