Die a Little
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Die a Little

3.74 of 5 stars 3.74  ·  rating details  ·  819 ratings  ·  124 reviews



How does a respectable young woman fall into Los Angeles' hard-boiled underworld?

Shadow-dodging through the glamorous world of 1950s Hollywood and its seedy flip side, Megan Abbott's debut, Die a Little, is a gem of the darkest hue. This ingenious twist on a classic noir tale tells the story of Lora King, a schoolteacher, and

Hardcover, 256 pages
Published February 22nd 2005 by Simon & Schuster (first published February 8th 2005)
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I am sad. I am sad that there are only four more Megan Abbott books that I haven't read, and by the end of this year (maybe even the end of this month)- I will probably have finished them all. I am trying to space them out- reading other books by other authors in between...but lately I have been failing miserably- and as soon as I finish one- I want another NOW! Yes- I am an addict. A Megan Abbott addict...

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Lora King- a straight-laced school teacher, and her doting brother Bill- a junior investig...more
Dan Schwent
When her brother's new wife seems too good to be true, Lora King starts poking around in her sister-in-law, Alice Steele's past, uncovering ugly things lurking beneath Hollywood's glitzy surface. Can she protect her brother before getting ensnared in the same web as Alice?

I've arrived at Die a Little, Megan Abbott's debut novel, after weaving a serpentine course through her other noir books. It sure doesn't read like a first novel. All the things I love about her later novel are there, fully-for...more
I picked this up on a whim, knowing nothing about it or Megan Abbott, it sat on my shelf for a while and then I started to notice a lot of love and enthusiasm for the author on GR, intrigued I figured the time was right, the planets had aligned, I would read this book.

I started to doubt the rave reviews after about 40 pages; a lot of time was spent on listing household items being bought by one of the characters which felt like an attempt to showoff all of the research that was done by the autho...more
Aug 01, 2014 Eve rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommended to Eve by: Lisa
Shelves: read-2014
The 1950s seems to be an idealized era, full of change and promise; some would say it was a simpler time. Veterans were settling down to desk jobs, marrying, and raising families of their own. Women's fashion, technology, and the entertainment world were swerving in a new direction. Everyone seemed to be generally prospering and there was relative peace. That's the world that Lora, a twenty-something school teacher, and her brother Bill live in: a serene, quiet existence in West Pasadena.

The day...more
‘...behind that knockout face of hers, she’s more like the women they see on the job, on patrol, on a case, in the precinct house. Women with stories as long as their rap sheets, as their dangerous legs...’

Megan Abbott channels the hallowed echoes of ghosts from the golden era of pulp in her depiction of a small town school teacher and her square world turned upside down by a double dose of femme fatale.

'Die A Little' provides protagonist Lora King, a cops sister, and deer-in-the-headlights sch...more
Jun 10, 2007 Michelle rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: noir fans
Shelves: noir
Fabulous. I devoured it in the last 2 days. Megan Abbott writes like a cross between Jim Thompson, James M. Cain and Doris Day. I think I'm going to log off now and drink a gin rickey and eat a cream puff.
Gerard Cappa

This is a great book, and I don't know how I have missed Megan Abbott until now.
'Die a Little' was first published almost ten years ago but I stopped reading at one point to check that it wasn't actually a novel from the 1950's that had maybe been re-published at this later date.

Another reviewer here on Goodreads, Michelle, nails it with perhaps the best one-liner I have seen in a review: Megan Abbott's writing is a mixture of "Jim Thompson, James M Cain and Doris Day".

Lora King is a Doris Day,...more
This is book that leaves me conflicted. Abbot is undeniably a talented writer. She has a way with phrasing and a compelling voice. The first half of this book just left me cold.

Her POV character in this book, Lora King, is a young woman in her early 20's in 1950's Los Angeles. Lora's Brother is a tough DA investigator who has just become married to a woman with a dark past. Lora attempts to get to the bottom of some things and hilarity ensues.

I am caught between what I thought of as a dreary f...more
This is not my typical fare, and wow, I LOVED IT!!!!
Gobbled it up!
Delicious and delectable!
This book proved to me that I can and should venture out of my comfort zone.
I read this at every possible opportunity even if it meant that I could only read two pages at a time. It called to me when I was away from it.
Will write real review this coming week.
This is not the kind of book I like. Stuffed with details like garishly tinted photos of table spreads in turn of the century cookbooks, endless descriptions of social events and brand name objects; women's details. So believe me when I say this book is stunning, that this author could do anything and I would trail along behind her lapping up words like a hopeless puppy.

Halfway through I started to become worried that she wouldn't be able to pull it off; that the mystery or the answer or the en...more
This book was heavy on the mood. I loved the whole 1950's Hollywood noir thing. This is an undiscovered genre for me. I definitely want more.
Kit Fox
Good times. Had this nice domestic noir vibe to it and felt reminiscent of good ol' Mildred Pierce. The Song Is You was definitely a more polished novel, but this showed me that Megan Abbott knows how to have fun with the hardboiled genre. Word to your sultry 1950s mom and her voile nightgown, yo.
Paul Eckert
Megan Abbott's style of noir reminds me of James M. Cain and Jim Thompson. Maybe it's because good noir has a lot of similar qualities: damaged characters, double lives, intriguing suspense, treachery, betrayal, and no-bullshit prose that conveys all of these things in an artful minimalism. Abbott is all these things, but with a bit of a twist - the main character of this story goes from quiet schoolmarm to investigative sleuth in 1950's Los Angeles.

The story in a nutshell: Lora has always been...more
DIE A LITTLE is the first in a series of books frm Megan Abbott flagged somewhat unhelpfully as "modern noir". I'm not at all sure what that should imply in terms of expectation, but whatever caused it, something didn't really work about this book for me.

Leaving aside the fact that the cover is absolutely wonderful and the title is glorious, the style very atmospheric and the build up interesting (woman with a "past" who marries a cop, cop's sister smells a rat, digs), something about the delive...more
RATING: 3.25
First book

Lora King is a straitlaced schoolteacher who shares her home with her brother, Bill, who is a police investigator. Brother and sister are very close to one another until the time that Bill meets an erotic and beautiful wardrobe assistant named Alice Steele. He falls completely under her spell, even after they marry. In every way, she is the perfect woman--physically beautiful, magnetic personality, devoted to her husband—their life together seems almost like a fairy tale. A...more
This book blew me away. The writing is so strong and evocative and sure of itself. The POV and the pacing are both fantastic and the women characters are multi-layered and interesting. I especially loved reading the both slow and sudden recognition of the dark messy true core of self ("The hardest thing in this world is finding out what you're capable of") and also the feeling of the intrusion of someone else appearing in your life whom you may not want in it.

Seriously, I loved this book.
A noir tale with an unusual perspective, the detective is the sister-in-law of the femme fatale. It’s well written and has a number of good lines, but as much as I liked it this is one of those stories which relies on the major characters not sharing things you think they’d share – or asking questions you’d think they’d really ask.
Yves Fey
Darkness twisting under the Souther Californian brightness. Deception, betrayal, illusion and disillusion. The style is poetic with a touch of the surreal. I love that the two main characters are both women, both brilliantly drawn. Megan Abbott made me an instant fan with this book, which is now one of my all time favorite noirs.
I happen to have loved Megan Abbott's two later noir novels, Queenpin and Bury Me Deep. Die a Little is an earlier work of hers, also a noir novel, and I am not sure if it is her debut. The narrator in this one is Lora, a single schoolteacher, whose brother Bill marries Alice. Alice, we suspect very early on, is not who she represents herself to be, and is hiding a very checkered past. Lora's extreme love for her brother causes her to investigate further. I read it very quickly and it certainly...more
I picked up Die a Little from the school library while I waited for Abbott's new (?) novel The Fever to arrive.
I think it's probably worth closer to 3.5 stars. It kept me reading at a time when there was a whole lot of other things going on in my head, but I didn't love it. The protagonist Lora was painfully constructed of cardboard - I've rarely seen such a bland and historyless lead. It made it a little hard for me to identify with her motives, even as she grew a pair throughout the novel. The...more
Good but I did find it hard to believe that the seemingly innocent Lora can see what her brother, the DA's investigator fails to spot. However there's a good pace to the story that kept me reading.
Mike Swain
Incredibly disappointing. This book lacks any sense of time or location. It's supposed to be 1950's LA but it could easily be any other city at any other time. The characters are dull, the protagonist is pathetic. If I had a pound for every time she states she couldn't look someone in the eye then I could afford to buy a better book many times over.

The prose is very odd too. It feels stunted, almost like an early, incomplete draft at times. Sentences feel abridged. There is very little flow to t...more
Jan 01, 2014 Jess rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Rockabilly girls
Recommended to Jess by: Amazon
I feel like a cheater, writing this review in the new year after reading it in 2013. But I'm not considering it towards my 2014 goal, so I think I'm good. My conscience is clear.

This is the first Megan Abbott book I've read, hopefully the first of many since I'm reading Dare Me right now and I adore it. Die A Little is a very different book with very different purposes, and you can tell Abbott has grown a lot as a writer since 2005, but this is still an enticing, well-written noir novel with a s...more
Jason Farris
I think I will have to agree with many of the other reviewers here. This story was likable and the prose reflected perfectly the film noir style and imagery of the 1940s. I'm in love with black and white pictures and have a very special place reserved for that era of writing when novelists took chances with something different, exploring the depths into which ordinary people can sometimes fall. And that just imitates real life.

With that being said, I could not stand behind a complete 5-star rati...more
Megan Abbott must be James Cain's daughter.
This one definitely has the striking language and spot-on descriptions of the author's later books. It was an enjoyable read, but there was a bit of awkwardness there too.

I had a hard time understanding Lora's motivation, and since her actions drove the story that made things rocky. I also had this odd tendency, whenever Bill was mentioned, to go "Wait, who? Oh yeah, that's the brother." He was a central element of the story, and somehow I kept forgetting he existed as soon as he walked out of a...more
I think this is my favorite of Megan Abbott's neo-pulp/noirs (well, maybe I like it the same as Queenpin). But there is this quality about her novels that I've never been able to decide is an asset or an issue, and it's strongly present in Die a Little - the men are nonentities; at best, they're symbols. And at least in some cases (Queenpin) that's purposeful; in Die a Little Mike Standish comes pretty close to being a person (he's charming, it's kind of a shame) but Bill, Lora's brother is (qui...more
As avid reader and a noir enthusiast, I came across a paperback copy of "Die A Little" in a bargain bin. What first caught my attention was the cover art and I immediately bought it. I had never heard of Megan Abbott before, and I found myself intrigued by the story of a schoolteacher in 1950s Los Angeles who finds her comfortable existence disrupted when her brother, an investigator, becomes involved with and then marries a woman with a mysterious past. Alice Steele, who works as a wardrobe ass...more
Benjamin Thomas
I understand this is Megan Abbott's debut novel, but it certainly doesn't read like one. It reads like the best of the classic LA or Hollywood noir stories, perhaps something by James M. Cain. Ms Abbott has the perfect style for this sort of story: minimalistic, meaning there are many layers of subtext and mood but she never really comes right out and explicitly describes the seedy nature of what's happening. But as a reader, you still completely understand what's happening. Pretty cool.

The stor...more
This noir novel brings the reader to remember Raymond Chandler's novels about Los Angeles in the 1950's.

Lora King, a school teacher, has always been close to her brother, Bill, who is a junior investigator with the district attorney's office.

Bill meets a mystery woman named Alice and they marry. Not long after, as Lora gets to know Alice, things about what Alice explains in her past, bring Lora to question them in her mind. There are also things about Alice's current activities that worry Lora.

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Megan Abbott is the Edgar® award-winning author of the novels The End of Everything Queenpin, The Song Is You, Die a Little, Bury Me Deep and her latest, Dare Me (July 2012).

Her writing has appeared in the New York Times, Salon, the Los Angeles Times Magazine, The Believer, Los Angeles Review of Books, Detroit Noir, Best Crime and Mystery Stories of the Year, Storyglossia, Queens Noir and The Spee...more
More about Megan Abbott...
Dare Me The End of Everything The Fever Queenpin Bury Me Deep

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“Here he is, the man who knows things and who should want to help me. But it is so hard to bring up things with any weight at all to a man like this. A man like this doesn’t have real conversations.” 3 likes
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