Reviewed for the 2010 Global Reading Challenge, North America, America.
This crime novel is American writer Megan Abbott´s fourth book. I won it in a competition.
The plot begins when Doctor Seeley goes to Mexico to work in the mining area as he has acquired an unfortunate taste for his own medicine.
His wife, Marion Seeley, is left behind in a guesthouse in Phoenix. The problem is that this is 1931, and that Mrs Seeley is so very young and inexperienced and pretty, far too pretty for her own good.
She works in a clinic where she meets the helpful nurse Louise Mercer who is more than ready to introduce her to a large circle of interesting friends.
The reader soon fears that this cocktail of innocence and experience will turn into disaster. Louise and her bosom friend, Ginny, are always mysteriously surrounded by generous ´gentlemen´ who are more than willing to bring liquor and an interesting supply of useful drugs. Marion does not really notice the slow process of corruption she is going through until she is so entangled in their complicated lives that she cannot get out.
The plot was inspired by the true story of Winnie Ruth Judd. Usually ´true crime´ is not my favourite taste, because authors too often let the truth obstruct their imagination, but this cannot be said about Abbott´s compelling mystery.
True crime AND noir? I shouldn´t like this story at all! But I did, partly because of the Abbott´s absolutely wonderful language, and just like Marion, this reader was soon caught in the web, unable to put down the story, even though she bit her nails in anticipation, worried how wrong things might turn out for Marion.
Not another word about the book. You will have to read this one yourself to find out why this story has been nominated for an Edgar Award!