Megan Abbott’s Mysterious Disappearance

New Novel Fails To Deliver Thrills Of Past Work

The wave of bestselling psychological thrillers by and about women these past few years is due in no small part to Edgar®-winning author Megan Abbott. Her novels Dare Me, The Fever, and You Will Know Me concern the precarious and often dangerous friendships of high school girls. I fervently plowed through each one. Nothing makes a middle-aged mom turn pages faster than grisly cheerleader murders.

That’s why it was with great anticipation I started Abbott’s latest, Give Me Your Hand. It tells the story of Kit and Diane, best friends at seventeen who find themselves together again as postdocs working on a groundbreaking research project with their female mentor Dr. Severin. The novel has all of the elements for a great thriller—female rivals, sexist co-workers, Shakespearean references, poison spaghetti, premenstrual psychosis, STEM—and Abbott skillfully sets up a fascinating scenario. Unfortunately, it doesn’t pay off.

Not only is the big mystery obvious and underwhelming, so is the ensuing fallout. The main problem is that Diane isn’t a worthy adversary for Kit. By the end I found myself wishing a psychopathic cheerleader would show up in the lab and liven things up a bit with a Bunsen burner. When a genre writer produces as prolifically as Abbott does, the catalog’s bound to contain a few clunkers.  Let’s hope that her next one, which I’ll no doubt buy the day it comes out, brings back the thrill I found missing in this one.

 

Give Me Your Hand, By Megan Abbott

(Little Brown & Company, July 17, 2018)

Wendi Aarons

Wendi Aarons is the creator of @paulryangosling. She writes the USWeekly Fashion Police column and comic essays for McSweeneys. Mostly she writes notes that she leaves on cars parked by assholes. She’s lived in Austin, Texas for 20 years and hopes you don’t move there.

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