Memoir of friend’s murder is a lurid read
Titillation overshadows search for truth
that between work at a makeup counter and transferring to fashion school, she is a parttime stripper who dabbles with crystal meth and has an older man paying her car lease. The friends part, making plans to meet again, but the bond they once shared over secrets and sleepovers is strained.
Murnick the memoirist wonders how Ashley went from confident risk taker to drug taker and pole dancer. But her book doesn’t dig deeply enough to answer that question.
Instead, Murnick wallows in self-absorption, conflicted feelings about her friend and guilt she feels as she notches touchstones of adulthood while her friend lies dead.
She seethes when the lawyer defending Ashley’s accused killer hammers her friends with questions about Ashley’s sex life at a pre-trial hearing. Yet Murnick is equally prone to revealing salacious details (Ashley had a date with actor Ashton Kutcher the night she died! Ashley could be aggressive in bed! She and Ashley took playful photos as girls that the photo lab rejected as “smut”!) that seem to cast a similar portrait of her friend.
Michael Gargiulo, a handyman, is expected to face trial in California this fall for the deaths of Ellerin and Maria Bruno and the attempted murder of a third woman. He is suspected of killing as many as 10 women.
Murnick is an engaging writer and her story of the seamy side of young Hollywood sucks you in like a link to TMZ. But her exploration of her friend’s young life and lurid death reads like exploitation.
The illustrations with The Purloining of Prince Oleomargarine give the story a vintage feel.
Author Carolyn Murnick