Megan Abbott is a rising star in the world of crime fiction, and I’m not sure why it’s taken me so long to read one of her books, but on holiday I caught up with The End of Everything, her latest, a novel that has earned glowing reviews on both sides of the Atlantic.
It’s not hard to see why this book has earned such acclaim. The writing is absolutely top notch, and Megan Abbott’s style is such that she can achieve in the space of a relatively slim volume effects which others struggle to pull off in much bulkier novels.
This is a story about the relationship between fathers and daughters, or more broadly, between older men and teenage girls. The subject matter is delicate, but it is handled well and never sensationally. The story is told from the viewpoint of Lizzie, a thirteen year old whose best friend goes missing. There isn’t much doubt that she’s been abducted by a man called Shaw, but Abbott is more interested in the relationships between her characters than in a mysterious plot. And those relationships are depicted in a compelling way which had me gripped.
The one drawback to a crime novel written by a top flight author is that the culprit’s motivation is often inadequately drawn. So it is here. I anticipated the final ‘twist’ (though to call it that suggests this is a whodunit, which it isn’t, in any conventional sense) at an early point of the story, and I did wonder why the police did not focus their attention more on a particular individual rather than the obvious suspect. But this is a quibble – The End of Everything is a shining example of high calibre writing, and a fine achievement.