Megan Abbott’s blurb exclaims “Bracing and blazingly smart…could hardly be more needed or more timely” on the cover of Dead Girls. Alice Bolin explores the theme of dead girls in crime fiction, movies, and TV. From the death of Laura Palmer in Twin Peaks to the mysteries of Raymond Chandler and Ross Macdonald, Alice Bolin traces the American obsession with missing and dead girls. The perfect example of this phenomenon is the late Summer media domination of the search for missing (and then dead) Molly Tibbitts in Iowa. FOX News showed its obsession with Molly Tibbitts while ignoring the more provocative happenings in Trump World. Dead Girls is strongest when Alice Bolin deals with crime and mysteries rather than her hypochondria and witchcraft. I enjoyed Bolin’s perspective in these essays. GRADE: A-
Introduction: Girls, Girls, Girls 1
Part 1 The Dead Girl Show
Toward a Theory of a Dead Girl Show 13
Black Hole 25
The Husband Did It 47
The Daughter as Detective 57
Part 2 Lost in Los Angeles
There There 89
Los Angeles Diary 99
Lonely Heart 109
The Place Makes Everyone a Gambler 117
The Dream 137
Part 3 Weird Sisters
A Teen Witch’s Guide to Staying Alive 159
And So It Is 177
My Hypochondria 187
Just Us Girls 199
Part 4 A Sentimental Education
Accomplices 215
Acknowledgments 275


  1. Steve Oerkfitz

    Looks interesting. I’ll have to check my library system for it although I just got 4 books that I had holds on. They all seem to come in at the same time. Interestingly I just started The Real Lolita about a young girl who went missing in 1948 and whose case influenced Nabokov.. Also blurbed by Megan Abbott.

  2. Jeff Meyerson

    It does sound interesting (except for her hypochondria and witchcraft), but too many books. I got several when we got home, plus three ebook downloads from the library, plus the final Bill Crider (coming in February), an ARC, thanks to Angela.

    In these cases, Jackie generally echoes the words of wisdom of Lt. Provenza in MAJOR CRIMES: “It’s always the husband.”

    1. george Post author

      Jeff, I’m chipping away at the review books that have been piling up. I’m trying to just request one Library book per week. And I just went to a local Library Sale yesterday and bought a box of books, mostly SF.

  3. patti Abbott

    I have it sitting on my shelf but sort of dread reading it. Will be glad when this trend in fiction and life is over.

  4. Rick Robinson

    American? No. Obsession? No.

    It’s standard plot line – a missing person has to be one gender or the other, and is often the less aggressive person. There have been missing person plots since before Shakespeare, for heaven’s sake. This is an invented subject, and someone could have easily have done a book on dead children, dead men, dead foreign nationals, dead parents, dead bartenders, dead cops, dead P.I.s, dead salesmen, dead antique dealers. I could go on, but you get the idea. This cashes in on the woman-as-victim focused attention of our current society and thus will probably get a lot of readership, which is great for the author, but would seem to contribute little to genre fiction.

    1. george Post author

      Rick, the word “Girl” in the title of a book boosts sales. Alice Bolin traces the roots of this trend and shows the impact of this phenomenon on contemporary crime fiction and TV programming and movies.

  5. wolf

    The girl doesn’t have to be dead to make for an interesting story.
    In Germany five years ago a 13 year old girl disappeared sudenly five years ago – of course the parents were really worried.
    The police found out later that she had gone with a man (at least 40 years older!) all around Europe – but they lost her trail …
    Now after five years the girl reappeared and is being questioned about what happened….
    And of course we’ve had many dead girls stories, abductions and sex abuse in Europe over the last years too …
    Though afaik the number of disappearing persons generally is much higher in the USA – in Germany e g you have to have an ID card and you van’t change your name easily.

      1. wolf

        I’ve been following the Hurricane news, well at least it went down from 4 to 2 – but still.
        Hope that not too many lives will be lost and wish everybody the best!
        On our last trip to the USA we went from nasville to the coast: Charleston, Hilton Head Island, Savannah etc – and of course some of the famous plantations.
        To think that these beautiful place might be destroyed …
        i still remember going to Florida and looking at the effects of Hurricanes in Flamingo and Ft Lauderdale – once I even had to leave Miami Beach (for a tourist no problem, just drove to St Pete Beach …) because a Hurricane was expected – but it went down in Ft Lauderdale …

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