Trashed by Alison GaylinAuthor: Alison Gaylin
Publisher: Little Black Dress (2008)
Number of Pages: 325
How long it took me to read: 3 days
Where I got this book: local library
ISBN: 978-0-451-22113-1

Like a Moth to a Flame

I just read her newest book, And She Was, which was a great mystery, and I wanted to read her older books to explore more of her world. I picked this one as the next step on my journey with Gaylin.

Favorite Five

I propose that the top 5 quotes from this book are:

5. “She pointed at the left hand, and around it came. It held a small plastic bottle of pills. I don’t do pills, she started to say. But she didn’t get past the word ‘don’t’ before she noticed the glove—pale blue latex, like the kind a dentist would wear. She looked at the label on the pills, Nembutal, and her pulse sped up.” (p.6)

4. “Too bad she couldn’t hold her breath forever. Simone had never sat in on an autopsy, but to her way of thinking, there was no way it could smell worse than the inside of this Dumpster.” (p.130)

3. “ ‘Hungry Like the Wolf.’ A song nearly as old as Simone. One minute you’re a baby, the next you’re three thousand miles from home, driving a rental car up Beverly Drive at midnight with a Unabomber look-alike, getting ready to pick through some soap star’s used Kleenex….” (pp.18-9)

2. “She heard the wet sound of a tongue clicking. Then the caller started to laugh. Holly slammed down the phone, but that laugh stayed with her—a laugh she not so much heard as felt, dry and stinging, down the side of her neck.” (p.102)

…and my pick for the No.1 quote is…

1. “ ‘That sounds perfect,’ Holly had said, all business this time, not a trace of emotion in her voice. Either she’s got split personality disorder or this girl could teach a graduate-level course in screwing with my head.” (p.254)

Conversation with the Reader

While I read, I write, and as I write, I read. Here’s some of what I wrote while I read this book:

“Jimmy Choo—where are you? Apparently missing from the foot of a dead former movie star. Jimmy is an exciting clue in this mystery, one that must be followed. Is it a suicide or murder? Unlike the missing Jimmy Hoffa, whom I’ve given up on finding, I’m confident I can help our heroine, Simone Glass, find the shoe and solve the mystery so that we can both go on with our super sleuthing lives. For I love being a super sleuth; it engages my brain, helps me to work out puzzles, and isn’t unlike being a therapist. Therapy allows me to relate to others, help them to integrate the variant conditions of their lives, and place issues in context so that they can begin to heal. I see myself as a super sleuth of gathering and sorting information, similar to Simone’s information gathering. And because of my professional background, I want to ask Simone a question—who really commits suicide while only wearing one shoe? If I were going to commit suicide, I’d either do it neatly, with everything in place for my survivors, or I’d do it impulsively with not a care for anyone else and how I look at the death scene (and since I’m going to be cremated, it really doesn’t matter). But I would not wear only one shoe; it just doesn’t fit the profile. Two shoes on or two shoes off; one just leaves a lot of questions.”

“One of my favorite comments is, ‘…Bedrock—and this was by far the most irritating thing of all—had its eras mixed up. Everyone knew that cavemen and dinosaurs never coexisted. It reminded Simone of those animated movies in which cows had male voices. Accepted stupidity. She just hated that. Honestly, would it kill them to stick to post-Jurassic animals?’ (p.59) This comment had me laughing so loud that I was snorting. Here Simone is on the path of a killer, and she’s worried about reality in a sleazy bar. But yet, I can relate. Look at the Religious Right’s take on evolution vs. creationism; ‘accepted stupidity’ indeed. Can they not even get basic scientific facts correct? Ignorance just makes me crazy. And how disgusting are those animated cows with udders and male voices? For heavens sake, I grew up on a farm. Can we say sexist and misogynistic? Even our cartoons are paternalistic! Way to go, Simone, in sleuthing out ignorance.”

“I love Kathy Kinney’s character. She’s an ‘infiltrator’ for the magazine where she and Simone work, playing the role of a tabloid journalist turned masterful actress, infiltrating funerals, charity benefits, weddings, and other sundry affairs. She takes on the vain and the vapid. She spies, she dresses to the 9s, she quizzes, she follows, and she creates drama as a distraction. Intelligent, gorgeous, and funny, I want to be her friend. Instead of a fantasy football team, I’m going to have Kathy as my main star in a group of fantasy mystery novel friends and live vicariously through her exciting life.

“Just think about it; a fantasy mystery novel team. My team would consist of characters from various mysteries, including Kathy. I could discuss my team with friends who have similar teams. My fantasy friends would all be very intelligent, funny, compassionate, and liberal (this may be a tougher qualification to find). They would be super sleuths who have quirky personality traits that make them endearing to everyone and they would have to be irreverent. Candidates for my team would include the characters Alex Delaware and Milo Sturgis, Maggie O’Dell, Jane Lawless and Cordelia Thorn, Rizzoli and Isles, and Sherlock and Savitch. (…as I read back over this last part, I’m thinking I should get a life and make some real friends…)”

“I’m getting rather sick of the heroine’s victim status. She seems to believe she can be part of the paparazzi and not suffer consequences because she’s just doing her job. And what a job it is. Deceit, dishonesty, duplicity, and danger. I believe she would benefit from Buddhist readings on ‘right livelihood,’ for harassing people as a livelihood is really pathetic. Yes, I know it’s not up there with developing atomic bombs or flying planes into buildings, but really, what a nasty profession. Of course, we as Americans are culpable regarding this profession due to our voyeuristic tendencies regarding the rich and famous. But since I don’t read that kind of crap, I believe I’m above these tendencies. (Alright, I admit to thumbing through People magazine in waiting rooms, and I do check out some of the entertainment sections on the homepage my computer defaults to…so maybe I am culpable.)”

“Here’s something I understand—self mutilation. Yes, one of our stars cuts her arms and the backs of her ankles while hoarding a secret collection of surgical knives. And the author got it right stating that: ‘She said it released the pain. Made her feel more alive.’ (p.107)—an accurate, albeit, minimalist approach to this illness and the suffering that goes along with it.

“For self mutilation has become an epidemic, especially among women. They often start harming themselves in their early teens, with some exhibiting symptoms even earlier. How tragic that people must harm themselves to either feel physical pain in order to ‘feel more alive’ or to use it to try to numb out overwhelming emotions that can’t be dealt with in other, healthier ways. While it’s a symptom of mental illness, it also becomes a very addictive behavior and one that’s quite difficult to stop. And if I remember correctly, Angelia Jolie and Jonny Depp have both admitted to being cutters (oops, I must have read articles from the paparazzi). It’s a serious condition and one that has almost become a cool phase—the stigma is not as severe, which is good, but becoming a status symbol is not.

“In returning to the book, self mutilation doesn’t necessarily lead to suicide (especially suicide by slicing one’s neck), for suicide may never be the intent and may happen only accidentally by slicing too deeply. So I don’t believe it was death by suicide in this case; only made to look that way. Keep looking for a killer, Simone!”

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  1. Cappi says:

    I enjoy a good mystery and this book sounds like a good one to check out. Off to the library I go!

  2. Janet says:

    Excellent review. I especially liked the explanation of self-mutilation offered by this reviewer. All very true and very accurate. Keep up the great work!

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