Interrogation—Patricia Abbott

Who: Patricia Abbott

What: The author of more than 140 published short stories, one of which won the Derringer in 2009 (“My Hero”). She is the co-editor with Steve Weddle of DISCOUNT NOIR and the author of two ebooks: HOME INVASION, a novel in stories, and MONKEY JUSTICE (stories).

In 2015, Polis Books published her first print book CONCRETE ANGEL, which garnered a starred review from LIBRARY JOURNAL and a good review from BOOKLIST. In 2016, Polis will publish SHOT IN DETROIT. Both are standalone books. Figuring out how to write series detective stories is still in her future. She is also the senior movie reviewer for CRIMESPREE MAGAZINE.

Where: Detroit

Interview conducted by email. Some questions and answers have been edited.

I just read CONCRETE ANGEL and found it to be funny, dark and devastating. How did the multi-decade tale of Evelyn “Eve” Moran and her daughter Christine come together? Why is shoplifting central to the plot?

Shoplifting, most especially a crime of women, always interested me. I was guilty of lifting a skirt once myself. Rachel Shteir, in her cultural history of shoplifting, THE STEAL, makes the point that, in crime as in everything else, who you are has always mattered. Kerry Segrave, in SHOPLIFTING: A SOCIAL HISTORY—a study frequently cited by Shteir quotes Dr. David Reuben, writing in McCall’s in the nineteen-seventies, to the effect “that most amateur store thieves were married women between the ages of thirty-five and fifty-five. What they had in common, he said, was unhappy marriages, obesity, depression. Their sexual relationships with their husbands ranged from unsatisfactory to nonexistent. In effect, their lives have been drained of all emotional satisfaction. An afternoon roaming through a department store is a substitute for social relationships with other human beings.”

Does this sound like Eve? Eve was thus able to get away with shoplifting in the small towns that catered to military personnel. The stakes were upped in Philly though as shoplifting became an epidemic and stores found ways to clamp down on practitioners.

CONCRETE ANGEL was an amalgamation of two true stories: one that of a childhood friend and her mother, and the other a newspaper account. In both of them the woman shoplifted and the daughters stood guard in some fashion.

Continue reading