We don't know her name, where the heck we are, or at what point in history and time the characters occupy. But the young lady telling you her story--a protege learns her trade from a tough and powerful crime boss--is headed for big trouble, and oh my goodness are The Famous Author and I having fun watching her operate.
To explain how much we like QUEENPIN by Megan Abbott, we have to make an admission. Both TFA and myself. We don't read, or identify with, many female protagonists. Before you brand us sexist, know that we love and buy new in hardback, both Sue Grafton's Kinsey Malone, and Janet Evanovitch's Stephanie Plum. There are many exceptions, but in general, female protagonists are more difficult for us as readers. Not sure why. I offer no speculation.
Megan Abbott has come up with another exception. We picked up QUEENPIN in Houston for something to read last Sunday, our one day off touring. Nothing more than 250 miles of driving. After the first few pages, we were tempted to dump the driving and just finish her story. This protag is cruising for a bruising, and both TFA and I are dying to watch it unfold.
But the writing is so good, the character so well drawn, we've decided to savor it. Little pieces every day. Something to look forward to as we wander the countryside, hawking TFA's own meager printed ramblings.
There's a reason Megan Abbott's first two books won Edgars. DIE A LITTLE won Best First Novel in 2006. QUEENPIN was just named 2007's Best Paperback Original. The reason: Megan Abbott is a major talent, dudes. Not only are we captivated inside this story, This Woman writes.
Disclaimers? Nope. TFA and I have never met this woman. She's not even a chat-room buddy. We just love her stuff and had to share.
Here's a QUEENPIN blurb from Publisher's Weekly:
"Abbott delivers a sharp, slender, hardboiled tale of a protégé's schooling by a notorious, been-there-done-that moll. The first time the unnamed 22-year-old female narrator lays eyes on Gloria Denton, her first thought is I want the legs. The setting is the Club Tee Hee, an indeterminate Las Vegas–L.A. nowhere where the kid is doing the mobbed-up books, and Gloria comes in every few weeks to count Jerome's vig.
"The kid absorbs very entertaining lessons in how to dress, move, behave, and how to pick up, transport and distribute payoffs and winnings—until she falls for sweet-talking gambler Vic Riordan. Abbott is pitch-perfect throughout: Gloria Denton, still turning heads in her 40s, is as hard a moll as any, and the kid is a beautiful combination of foil and tool as she strives to emulate her role model. The collision, violent and inevitable, rips away the facade of glitz and glamour, and leaves their low-end edifice starkly exposed."
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