Date Published: August 1, 2017
Date Read: February 24-28, 2019
A gripping memoir of friendship with a tragic twist—two childhood best friends diverge as young adults, one woman is brutally murdered and the other is determined to uncover the truth about her wild and seductive friend.
As girls growing up in rural New Jersey in the late 1980s, Ashley and Carolyn had everything in common: two outsiders who loved spending afternoons exploring the woods. Only when the girls attended different high schools did they begin to grow apart. While Carolyn struggled to fit in, Ashley quickly became a hot girl: popular, extroverted, and sexually precocious.
After high school, Carolyn entered college in New York City and Ashley ended up in Los Angeles, where she quit school to work as a stripper and an escort, dating actors and older men, and experimenting with drugs. The last time Ashley visited New York, Carolyn was shocked by how the two friends had grown apart. One year later, Ashley was stabbed to death at age twenty-two in her Hollywood home.
The man who may have murdered Ashley—an alleged serial killer—now faces trial in Los Angeles. Carolyn Murnick traveled across the country to cover the case and learn more about her magnetic and tragic friend. Part coming-of-age story, part true-crime mystery, The Hot One is a behind-the-scenes look at the drama of a trial and the poignancy of searching for the truth about a friend’s truly horrifying murder.
What the ever-loving fuck did I read? Oh, it's a true crime alright... and it's also about a murder. The real true crime? The level of New York City naval-gazing insecurities combined equally with the New York City level of smugness and intellectual curiorisity made me hate the author.
Carolyn and Ashley were friends from fourth grade until the end of sixth or seventh grade. They were inseparable; many sleepovers, much playdates. One such memory of a sleepover involved the two girls, at one of the girl's homes alone, deciding to take Playboy-esque pictures of each other in the shower. That was in the introduction...and it went down from there.
Ashley moved away sometime in junior high and Carolyn went to boarding school that she barely passed and graduated from. Ashley moved to California and became more interested in boys and sex and living the glamourous life. As they went into their young adult years, Carolyn sucked at college and sucked worse at relationships and Ashley became a sex worker and party girl. This is all circa 1998-2000, so it sounds about right. Ashley came to visit Carolyn in New York City once for a weekend sometime in 1998 and it went badly, mostly because Ashley wanted to party like New Yorkers do and Carolyn was obscenely jealous of Ashley pulling all the guys attention wherever they went, including Carolyn's regular hook up guy and his roommate that she also lusted after but never made a move on. Ashley ended up sleeping with the roommate and Carolyn just decided to ghost Ashley from then on after Ashley went back to California.
I swear Carolyn and Lena Dunham went to the same writing MFA program. This is a silly and gross rip off of Girls.
Then Ashley was murdered in her home, sometime after having sex with her landlord and before her date with the actor Ashton Kutcher. No you read that right. They, Ashley and Kutcher, were supposed to go to a Grammy viewing party. When she didn't answer the door, Kutcher left. Carolyn, who hadn't had contact with Ashley since July 1998, was grief stricken by the announcement...and also wildly obsessive about all the damn details and players involved.
Did I mention that Carolyn was an online editor for New York magazine and seemed to have a shit ton of time on her hands to do all her creepy "investigating"? Did I mention that Ashley's murder from here on out is all in relation to Carolyn - her growing into adulthood, her sexual activities, her very being - and not about Ashley or the murderer. Also, did I mention that Carolyn has vivid and bizarre fantasies/day dreams about the random people and throws her thoughts and intentions onto them in her head without any clue that this person was thinking or feeling that way?
No it is nothing but naval gazing and reading the autopsy - and lots of trips to California for different pre-trial court dates with the guy arrested for a series of killings, including Ashley's. By the way, the actual trial hasn't even happened yet in the real world. This book is just Carolyn stalking Ashley after her death. The book ends with Carolyn, after visiting the dog park that is directly across the street from the house Ashley was renting and was killed in. And in another bizarre fantasy scenario in her head, Carolyn can picture the murder watching Ashley shower from his perch in the dog park.
Honestly, What the ever-loving fuck did I read?