She’s been collecting awards and accolades for years, but I’ve only just discovered Megan Abbot.
I started accidentally, on a whim, with her second novel, The Song is You. The book’s styling made me pick it up (my husband’s a bit partial to pulp art and I’ve grown to have rather a soft spot too, our dining room is walled with it), but as soon as I began to read, I fell hard and I fell fast. Just the way you should with such a book.
Abbot writes period novels in the hardboiled/noir tradition. She’s frequently compared to Chandler (and I love Chandler), but there’s both a succinctness and sumptuous lyricism to Abbot’s writing that is absolutely her own. She’s everything I might have hoped for in this genre. And so much more.
There are bent cops and wayward starlets, cloudy bars and glittering casinos, each crackling, sizzling story accompanied by perfect pacing, hooks and twists. The moral ambiguity is brilliantly layered – everything and everyone has a beautifully rendered seamy underside – and while Queenpin is simply dazzling, in each of her novels, her female characters are outstanding.
And this is hugely appealing. Personally I’ve always had a thing about fictional ‘bad girls’ (Oates’ Foxfire is one of my all-time favourite books). It’s also more generally refreshing – not that this is some simple redressing, the chilling brutality of gender politics runs in dark threads throughout Abbot’s books.
Most of all though, she tells fascinating, stylish and irresistible stories.
And her covers truly are amazing. And she’s called Megan. What’s not to like?