I went back and read one of Megan Abbott’s earlier books, Queenpin. It’s about a young woman who starts working for a female gangster and ends up building a toxic web of codependency with her. It’s a really fast-paced and interesting read. I particularly liked the day-to-day details of her life and the characterization of the female gangster.
However, I will note that the book isn’t quite as good as Dare Me, because the story is, fundamentally, a bit more crime-novelish.
Indeed, this is something that I noticed with Gillian Flynn. Her two earlier books, Sharp Objects and Dark Place, were both fairly traditional crime-stories (one was a serial killer story and the other was about a grisly mass murder), while her breakout, Gone Girl, was pretty nontraditional in both form and content.
Similarly, Dare Me, almost doesn’t seem like a crime novel at all: the murder element is so underplayed that the book could very easily be a young adult or literary book. It’s only when you go back into Abbott’s ouevre that you’re able to see the crime-writer DNA.
I also enjoyed seeing some of her writerly virtues in embryo. For instance, Queenpin, with its loving descriptions of aches and pains and bruises, is a glorious ode to rough sex. And that, in some ways, reminds me of tall the bodily description in Dare Me.
This has sent me onto a crime novel kick. Now I’m reading (or trying to read) The Friends of Eddie Coyle by George O’Higgins. And I’m thinking of reading Money Shot by Christa Faust next.