I found a really good one for you, gang.
A stylish, smart, moody noir thriller set in the 1950s, “Queenpin” is as hardboiled a novel as they come, dealing with the subjects that noir does best: sex, lies, betrayal, and stolen money. The book is narrated by an unnamed young woman who studies accounting by day and does the books for a seedy bar in a seedier part of town at night. She becomes entranced by the glamorous older dame who comes once a week to pick up the bar’s tribute money; Gloria is as stunning as she is business-savvy, surrounded by the whispers of mob legend. Gloria takes a liking to the young narrator and decides to take her under her wing. She learns quickly, eager to shed her working-class upbringing; soon she’s living the good life, eating at the finest restaurants and wearing the most expensive furs as the mob money rolls in. All is well until she falls for Vic Riordan, a charming small-time gambler who is known for his losing streaks. She falls under his spell, and soon she’s creeping behind Gloria’s back, talking herself into believing Vic’s grand schemes. The two women face off as cross turns into double-cross, and the story turns on the young woman’s ability to out-fox her mentor, who has made a lifetime of keeping tricks up her diamond-studded sleeve.
Both literary and deliciously trashy, Megan Abbott does everything right in “Queenpin,” adhering to the classic noir forms while carving out her own territory. She has written a book in a clear and strong female voice that belongs right alongside works from the genre like Jim Thompson, James Ellroy, and Raymond Chandler. Abbott also does an excellent job in letting our imaginations to the heavy lifting for us: for example, for a novel with a lot of blood, she never gets too lurid. For a novel that has a lot of sex, she never gets too salacious. Her prose is fast, sharp, and sparse, and is a joy to read. Abbott is a major talent on the scene, and I can’t wait to see what she comes out with next.