Die A Little

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February 14, 2005 at 05:00 AM EST

Lora King, the prim narrator of Abbott’s self-conscious debut novel Die A Little, doesn’t like her brother’s new wife, Alice, one little bit. Sexy, dramatic, and dark, Alice has unsavory friends, erratic bursts of energy, and, after four martinis, ”the eyes of a death mask, rotting behind the gleaming facade.” Then Lora finds a picture of Alice on the front of a playing card — in a garter, fondling another woman’s breasts. Set in 1950s Los Angeles, this arty noir exercise has some wonderfully depraved twists, but Abbott never achieves the momentum and black poetry of the genre’s masters, like the peerless James M. Cain.

Die A Little

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Die A Little

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