I found and read Abbott's first three novels a couple of years ago or so, and was utterly hooked by the quality of the writing and the imagination alike. "Bury Me Deep" is fully up to the very high standard set by those three. is it pastiche? Well maybe a bit - but this is nonetheless remarkable and irresistible fiction (usually based on some appalling real-life event), and very highly recommended.
The most recent book of the month in my book group. It is an interesting novel, set in the USA in the 1930s. It is based on the true story of a young woman whose husband, a medical doctor, went to Mexico to recover from his drug habit, leaving his wife lonely and vulnerable.
In Bury Me Deep, the main protagonist, Marion Seeley, is left in Phoenix, Arizona, by her doctor husband as he goes to Mexico to kick his smack habit. Marion gets a job at a hospital and falls in with two other nurses, Ginny and Louise. She soon falls under the spell of a friend of theirs, Joe Lanigan. But Joe's intentions are not at all honorable. The quality of the writing in Bury Me Deep is excellent and the story, largely because it is based on a true case, is interesting. However, although the book is not long, unfortunately the distribution of action is uneven. For the first two-thirds of the book, the action crawls along very slowly. I understand that some authors try to build excitement with a long fuse. In this case, I began to feel that the fuse had been extinguished in a bucket of ice water, the story progressed so slowly. The author made up for this in the last seventy pages.
That being said, Bury Me Deep is not a bad book. Megan Abbott's writing is superbe and the relationship between Lanigan and Mrs. Seeley is well drawn. I was as taken in by Lanigan's sob story as Marion was. When things started coming unglued, I could not put it down. Too bad the rest of the book was so slow. If the rest of the book had been as good as the last 70-80 pages, this would have been a five star review. Like I said before, the slow pace of the beginning of the book really wrecked Bury Me Deep for me. However, it does make for good discussions in a book group.
Bury Me Deep is inspired by the notorious 1931 `trunk murders' crime. It follows certain factual aspects of that story to frame the narrative, but the story itself is fiction and the ending is substantially different. There is plenty to like about the book, but the real strengths for me are the prose, the pace, the character development, and the plotting. Abbott is clearly something of a wordsmith and the prose is very nicely written. The pace is even and relenting, where it could have been rushed. This I think allows the story and characters to develop and the rationale for the crime that occurs about three fifths into the story to become clear. The characters are all well penned, especially the three lead women and their developing relationship, and the plot is well constructed with a good sense of historical detail. The only thing that seemed to be missing for me was a strong sense of place and geography. I had to keep reminding myself that it was set in Phoenix. I just got no real sense of the town or its landscape or indeed its social organisation and people beyond there being a group of important men that ran the place. As a result, the book felt a little decontextualized, reduced to the relationships between the four main characters and the distant Dr Seeley. Nevertheless, this is superior crime fiction and is well worth checking out.
I love Megan Abbott and I waited for this book to be released. I was not disappointed but I didn't enjoy it as much as Die A Little or Queenpin. Maybe it's because I think that there were a few too many similarities in some of the descriptions here especially to the ones involving sex in Queenpin! I had a sense of De Ja Vu. This book is based on a true story and that's always a risky idea but Megan Abbott does carry it off well. The ending is a little unrealistic and seems to be what Abbott would have liked to happen rather than what the character could realisticaly have ever achieved. She goes from being incredibly naive to very able and savvy and it seems so unlikely. That said I think Megan Abbott creates believable characters on the whole and gives a very good picture and understanding of the era. I would still highly recommend this book but make sure you read her others too. She truly is an exceptional author.