Hot Best Seller

The Hot One: A Memoir of Friendship, Sex, and Murder

Availability: Ready to download

Recommended by NPR, Elle, Cosmopolitan, Entertainment Weekly, New York Magazine, New York Post, and Bustle. 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 l Recommended by NPR, Elle, Cosmopolitan, Entertainment Weekly, New York Magazine, New York Post, and Bustle. 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.


Compare

Recommended by NPR, Elle, Cosmopolitan, Entertainment Weekly, New York Magazine, New York Post, and Bustle. 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 l Recommended by NPR, Elle, Cosmopolitan, Entertainment Weekly, New York Magazine, New York Post, and Bustle. 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.

30 review for The Hot One: A Memoir of Friendship, Sex, and Murder

  1. 4 out of 5

    Krystalyn

    I felt like the author spent majority of the book bragging about being a childhood friend of the victim and justifying her value in their friendship. While reading this book, I also felt that the author was trying to be apart of something bigger that didn't involve her until she obsessively pushed her way into the witness stand; not only was the book repetitive but I found the author to be annoying. I felt like the author spent majority of the book bragging about being a childhood friend of the victim and justifying her value in their friendship. While reading this book, I also felt that the author was trying to be apart of something bigger that didn't involve her until she obsessively pushed her way into the witness stand; not only was the book repetitive but I found the author to be annoying.

  2. 4 out of 5

    HollyHobby123

    I bought this book not knowing what to expect, therefore my mind was open to the author's viewpoint . I have now finished the book and I found it truly appalling to see how the author's parasitic approach to the death of this seemingly tragic girl found it's anchor in the early childhood friendship as some justification for writing this book. The author becomes unknowingly Ripleyesque in her obsession. In referring to the victim, Ashley Ellerin, as 'The Hot One' she denigrates her as a person in I bought this book not knowing what to expect, therefore my mind was open to the author's viewpoint . I have now finished the book and I found it truly appalling to see how the author's parasitic approach to the death of this seemingly tragic girl found it's anchor in the early childhood friendship as some justification for writing this book. The author becomes unknowingly Ripleyesque in her obsession. In referring to the victim, Ashley Ellerin, as 'The Hot One' she denigrates her as a person in very much the same way as the men who took advantage of Ashley did. I found myself asking, 'What do the victim's parents think of this so called childhood friends memoir?' This book is more a Single White Female trying to reinvent herself as her dead childhood friend whom she clearly always had a jealous fascination with. I would retitle this book, 'I Wish I had been the Hot One.'

  3. 4 out of 5

    Bexa

    To be truthful, I skimmed most of the second half of the book because I was just done listening to the author whine about herself. This book was built on the premise that her best friend from childhood gets murdered and she is just so overcome with sadness and guilt that she has to go out and figure out who killed her. In reality, she has basically nothing to do with the case and pushes her way into the case when there's nothing she could offer. She has felt inadequate in comparison to her best To be truthful, I skimmed most of the second half of the book because I was just done listening to the author whine about herself. This book was built on the premise that her best friend from childhood gets murdered and she is just so overcome with sadness and guilt that she has to go out and figure out who killed her. In reality, she has basically nothing to do with the case and pushes her way into the case when there's nothing she could offer. She has felt inadequate in comparison to her best friend throughout her childhood and into her adult years, and because of this she has never really felt comfortable in what she's doing or how she's acting. Even when she does start to feel comfortable something makes her think of her best friend and she is instantly back to being the awkward teenager. I found it really amusing at one point when she complains about how all the celebrity magazines are going on about poor Ashton Kutcher and having to see his dead girlfriend through the window because they're making it about him and not her friend. WHEN THAT'S ALL SHE DOES THROUGHOUT THE WHOLE BOOK. Not worth the time to finish reading properly.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth Wisker

    An insufferable narrator combined with unignorable editorial mistakes. Not even a good hate-read.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Melissa Shapiro

    Sorry but I don't need to hear about every single thought that crossed your mind for 15 or more years. Call me cruel but this was the most boring book I've read in a long time, and totally self-indulgent on the part of the author. Sorry but I don't need to hear about every single thought that crossed your mind for 15 or more years. Call me cruel but this was the most boring book I've read in a long time, and totally self-indulgent on the part of the author.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Castille

    I wanted to love this book-- gritty memoirs are my absolute favorite. Don't get me wrong, I did like it (3 stars = liked it), but it was not quite "there" for me. It seems like Murnick might have been better off waiting a bit longer to publish this, so that the trial had concluded. A major point of the book is how hard it is to accept things that happen, especially when one endures loss and then is expected/forced to move on without receiving closure. However, as it stands, it doesn't feel compr I wanted to love this book-- gritty memoirs are my absolute favorite. Don't get me wrong, I did like it (3 stars = liked it), but it was not quite "there" for me. It seems like Murnick might have been better off waiting a bit longer to publish this, so that the trial had concluded. A major point of the book is how hard it is to accept things that happen, especially when one endures loss and then is expected/forced to move on without receiving closure. However, as it stands, it doesn't feel comprehensive. I also hope that the publisher adds a photo of the author and Ashley before it's printed. After finishing the book, I Google image searched Ashley Ellerin and discovered that there are very few photos of her, and almost all of the queries refer to her as "Ashton Kutcher's murdered girlfriend", not even mentioning her name in the headlines. She was killed by a man and then overshadowed by another. Hopefully this book will help to bring attention to the woman who was murdered, and restore her identity as a whole person whose life was cut too short. I did appreciate Murnick's candidness in admitting the tenuous relationship between the girls, and how death of a loved one does not necessarily translate to a forgetting of the strains and frustrations of real life. Death does not erase that, and Murnick navigated that with honesty and grace.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Angie

    Don't bother. It became frustratingly apparent early in the book that while the author and Ashley had been close as children, they had grown apart (Ashley moved away in high school). The author learns of Ashley's death in a newspaper article. They hadn't seen each other in at least more than a year (the chronology is fuzzy and imprecise.) She acknowledges they'd grown apart. It's clear that the author isn't even close enough to Ashley's family to talk to them. With that as a backdrop, I found it Don't bother. It became frustratingly apparent early in the book that while the author and Ashley had been close as children, they had grown apart (Ashley moved away in high school). The author learns of Ashley's death in a newspaper article. They hadn't seen each other in at least more than a year (the chronology is fuzzy and imprecise.) She acknowledges they'd grown apart. It's clear that the author isn't even close enough to Ashley's family to talk to them. With that as a backdrop, I found it hard to relate or understand the supposed trauma the author feels. Hate to say it, but I found it tawdry and opportunistic, especially as the author inserts herself into the case. If you want to wade through lots of faux philosophizing, navel gazing, badly written banalities, go for it. But even the true crime aspects of the case are sloppily reported. Ugh. It was a fast read, but I'm kind of frustrated with myself for sticking with it.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Mariah Roze

    I got this book because I listened to a podcast where Carolyn (the author) was interviewed and she shared her story. Carolyn's book was really interesting and she did a good job at connecting you with Ashley. "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 C I got this book because I listened to a podcast where Carolyn (the author) was interviewed and she shared her story. Carolyn's book was really interesting and she did a good job at connecting you with Ashley. "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."

  9. 5 out of 5

    Sharon

    I try my best not to leave negative reviews because I worry about tearing down someone's work (I know, I could never be a critic). But I have to agree with so many of the reviews. This memoir made me uncomfortable from middle to end. The beginning was great, and I wish she had focused on her memoir of female friendship (even if it meant the memoir were shorter) and her critique of the concept of the male gaze without trying so hard to turn this into a true crime book. It is not a true crime book I try my best not to leave negative reviews because I worry about tearing down someone's work (I know, I could never be a critic). But I have to agree with so many of the reviews. This memoir made me uncomfortable from middle to end. The beginning was great, and I wish she had focused on her memoir of female friendship (even if it meant the memoir were shorter) and her critique of the concept of the male gaze without trying so hard to turn this into a true crime book. It is not a true crime book and she pushes so hard with the case and trial and to make herself a part of it. She mentions toward the end that she realized that she'd be writing about this someday, but once she begins talking about the trials, the case, and the details of Ashley's murder, you can tell that she had it in mind all along. I don't claim to know how the victim would feel better than anyone who knew her, including the author, but I feel that this book does not honor the victim at all. It really only paints her and leaves her as a victim despite the memoir starting out as if it were going to prove Ashley to be more than a murder victim and a victim of the male gaze.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Irmak Ertuna-howison

    if you are looking for a true crime this is NOT it. i would still read it if it wasn't so tedious and repetitive. if you are looking for a true crime this is NOT it. i would still read it if it wasn't so tedious and repetitive.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Lisa Fiyod

    Dull in every way. Weak.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Allison

    Meh. This will sound harsh, but I'm not sure the murder of this woman's childhood friend is that interesting to other people. Meh. This will sound harsh, but I'm not sure the murder of this woman's childhood friend is that interesting to other people.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Susan Liston

    This was pretty bad. I remembered this crime, the girl who was murdered in the Hollywood Hills the night she was suppose to have had a date with Ashton Kutcher. I thought that he either was the murderer or he was an idiot..he said he went to pick up her and she did not answer the door although her car was in the driveway, the lights were on and there was red liquid stain in the hallway he could see through the window. Way to put two and two together, Ashton. But this was written by the victim's This was pretty bad. I remembered this crime, the girl who was murdered in the Hollywood Hills the night she was suppose to have had a date with Ashton Kutcher. I thought that he either was the murderer or he was an idiot..he said he went to pick up her and she did not answer the door although her car was in the driveway, the lights were on and there was red liquid stain in the hallway he could see through the window. Way to put two and two together, Ashton. But this was written by the victim's childhood "friend" and it is just so annoying. It is an egregious display of the author's narcissism and melodramatic whining. AND there has been no solution to the crime, they think it's some creep who has committed other crimes but has not been convicted of this one. But hey, Carolyn attended his hearings or something, I was skimming at this point, and we sure got to hear what she wore to court every day! What a disgusting excuse to write a sensationalist book where you tell all about your dead friend's dicey past as a call girl and/or stripper or whatever she was, nice for her family, certainly, but mostly blither on about yourself. Avoid.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Milli (MiracleMilliReads)

    When reading a memoir, I feel like I have to connect with characters and author without having to try. It should be an instant connection just by reading a perfectly written story. Not only did I not feel that way, but I was so disoriented and confused throughout this entire read. I loved the story, the case, and the reasoning for her to go after the details of what really happened to the person she once had the most dearest relationship with. This memoir is about the author and her childhood be When reading a memoir, I feel like I have to connect with characters and author without having to try. It should be an instant connection just by reading a perfectly written story. Not only did I not feel that way, but I was so disoriented and confused throughout this entire read. I loved the story, the case, and the reasoning for her to go after the details of what really happened to the person she once had the most dearest relationship with. This memoir is about the author and her childhood best friend who was murdered. The author continues on trying to figure out the details and reasonings on why this tragic event happened and how. My main concern was that there was barely any details concerning the case, but more about the authors past on being with playboy and irrelevant things. I really wished I knew more about this case and what ever really happened, but I guess maybe in another book or I might have to do research on my own.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Emily

    I couldn't finish this book. I hate to be so harsh about someone's memoir, but this didn't even have the redeeming quality, as another reviewer said, of being a "hate read." And I'm someone who thoroughly enjoyed Holly Madison's memoir. I enjoy reading a variety of life experiences. And now, to the main act. What I expected and wanted: a memoir about two friends who grew apart and then an exciting, deep dive into the true crime aspect and self-discovery resulting from a new respect and perspectiv I couldn't finish this book. I hate to be so harsh about someone's memoir, but this didn't even have the redeeming quality, as another reviewer said, of being a "hate read." And I'm someone who thoroughly enjoyed Holly Madison's memoir. I enjoy reading a variety of life experiences. And now, to the main act. What I expected and wanted: a memoir about two friends who grew apart and then an exciting, deep dive into the true crime aspect and self-discovery resulting from a new respect and perspective for Ashley as a person rather than a sexual caricature. What I got: a self-loathing, self-deprecating, whining, selfish read that was repetitive, without color, and boring. The author is obsessed with othering and pointing out why she's superior to others. Every description is a haughty judgment disguised as self-deprecation. I made it to part two and decided it wasn't worth my time anymore. I almost stopped sooner because I found the author's description of people downright offensive. Ms. Murnick describes people with drippings of judgment, and it disgusted me ("my Dominican obese neighbor..."). That qualifier had NOTHING to do with the story. The way she describes her "friend" also struck me as gross. She didn't see her as a person, but rather a sex object. She complains about the male gaze but....is quite obviously also a participant. The author's self-reflection, if you could call it that, was more selfish pity and judgmental comparison, while somehow also managing to be haughty and conceited. Part one was entirely "who am I in relation to her...but I'm better than her...but I also want to be her...but I also don't like her." Part two started as more of the same plus her inserting herself into a case about a woman she refused to even take a phone from......so I threw my hands up. She didn't care about it until a celebrity was introduced into the equation. TL;DR this is a selfish memoir about the author inserting herself into a story that made her feel important, relevant, and desirable (the main aspect of Ashley that she coveted). It lacks honest self-reflection, excitement (which is incredible given the topic), and interest. Just a gross read all-around folks.

  16. 4 out of 5

    George K. Ilsley

    This really should be titled "The Indecisive One" since it it about a writer who seems frozen and unable to take any action. Even when someone is right next to her, she cannot talk or ask questions, but instead inflicts the poor reader with all sorts of "what if's" and "I wonder how he felt?" Don't wonder, just ask! This is a very strange book. Murnick has a talent for writing about herself, but gets lost trying to imagine what is going on with others. There is at most a short essay in this mate This really should be titled "The Indecisive One" since it it about a writer who seems frozen and unable to take any action. Even when someone is right next to her, she cannot talk or ask questions, but instead inflicts the poor reader with all sorts of "what if's" and "I wonder how he felt?" Don't wonder, just ask! This is a very strange book. Murnick has a talent for writing about herself, but gets lost trying to imagine what is going on with others. There is at most a short essay in this material. It is boring to watch someone discover the fundamentals of the criminal justice system (defence lawyers, for example, are not automatically scum for representing clients— in fact it's part of a little something called "innocent until proven guilty", which is considered a basic human right in a democracy). In a telling moment, when warned by the DA about gruesome crime scene photos, Murnick plans on how to pretend to avoid seeing the warning. Why not just open her mouth and say, "Thanks for the warning but I will probably stay." Why not just be open and direct? Instead, the writer gives us a scene where she plans how to be passive aggressive and deceptive. On a larger scale, this whole book is that scene.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer Turner (JensPageTurners)

    Sooo if you know me, you know I'm obsessed with true crime. This book totally sounded up my alley. However, it fell a little short for me. The story was intriguing enough, especially having the background of the victim's (Ashley) life as a young adult. But it felt like there was some fluff in there. 3/5. Many thanks to Simon and Schuster/NetGalley for the ARC in exchange for an honest review! Sooo if you know me, you know I'm obsessed with true crime. This book totally sounded up my alley. However, it fell a little short for me. The story was intriguing enough, especially having the background of the victim's (Ashley) life as a young adult. But it felt like there was some fluff in there. 3/5. Many thanks to Simon and Schuster/NetGalley for the ARC in exchange for an honest review!

  18. 4 out of 5

    Melissa

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. RANT TIME! 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, RANT TIME! 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?

  19. 5 out of 5

    Ariel

    This book is written by Ashley Ellerin's childhood friend. Ashley is famous for having briefly dated Ashton Kutcher and for being a victim of serial killer Michael Gargiulo. I was intrigued by what Carolyn had to offer but it wasn't really anything. At first I was intrested in the recounting of her childhood friendship with Ashley. I am around the same age and grew up in the same general location so it was a nostalgic trip for me. Z Cavaricci, I hadn't thought about those pants in years. After th This book is written by Ashley Ellerin's childhood friend. Ashley is famous for having briefly dated Ashton Kutcher and for being a victim of serial killer Michael Gargiulo. I was intrigued by what Carolyn had to offer but it wasn't really anything. At first I was intrested in the recounting of her childhood friendship with Ashley. I am around the same age and grew up in the same general location so it was a nostalgic trip for me. Z Cavaricci, I hadn't thought about those pants in years. After that I lost interest in the story. The friends separated when they were teenagers and after finding out that Ashley had embraced a more wild life style of prostitution and stripping they stopped speaking. Even though they were no longer friends Carolyn decided to attend the trial and write a book about it. It does not seem like genuine caring, more of a cash grab. The recounting of the trial isn't even good. The author is constantly inserting her own opinions and telling the reader what she thinks people motivations are. I saw the 48 hours episode on this case and it was better than this book. Ashley Ellerin was a beautiful girl who seemed to have a lot of people wanting something from her. Even in death she can't get a break from her so called friend.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Katie Robinson

    This is definitely NOT just a true crime tale, more of a memoir about female friendship and grief. If you're looking for a gripping whodunit, this isn't exactly it. But, if you want to give it a chance, it's worth it. I found the perspectives on long (stemming from childhood) female friendship incredibly accurate; she put things into words that I've felt but never expressed. Her grieving process and the way she handles her best friend's murder remind me a little of Joan Didion's "The Year of Mag This is definitely NOT just a true crime tale, more of a memoir about female friendship and grief. If you're looking for a gripping whodunit, this isn't exactly it. But, if you want to give it a chance, it's worth it. I found the perspectives on long (stemming from childhood) female friendship incredibly accurate; she put things into words that I've felt but never expressed. Her grieving process and the way she handles her best friend's murder remind me a little of Joan Didion's "The Year of Magical Thinking". I teared up a few times, as things hit close to home. And though I would've enjoyed more details about the murder case and the suspect's subsequent prosecution, if you head into this not expecting too much of that, it is still enjoyable.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Valerity (Val)

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. The Hot One is about two girls, Carolyn and Ashley, who were best friends growing up in New Jersey. Then circumstances of life sent them off in differing directions in their late teens. Carolyn stayed in the East, developing interests and eventually having a career in media and journalism, while Ashley moved back to Los Angeles, California, and kind of drifted into dancing and stripping, escorting, and the fast life. The once daily calls dwindle down to maybe monthly and they develop new friends The Hot One is about two girls, Carolyn and Ashley, who were best friends growing up in New Jersey. Then circumstances of life sent them off in differing directions in their late teens. Carolyn stayed in the East, developing interests and eventually having a career in media and journalism, while Ashley moved back to Los Angeles, California, and kind of drifted into dancing and stripping, escorting, and the fast life. The once daily calls dwindle down to maybe monthly and they develop new friends along with some new and different values in Ashley's case. Then, shockingly, Carolyn finds out that Ashley has been murdered. She makes a promise to herself to find out what happened to her friend. After Carolyn Murnick learned that there was a suspect in custody and that there was to be a hearing and trial, she began checking into it and this book is the result. She flew out to California for all of the hearings and the trial, sharing the experiences and the stories she gathered from others who attended. She also met other people who testified that turned out to be friends of Ashley's from the west coast that rounded out the rest of her west coast story. I really enjoyed this book as a long time fan of true crime. But also from the aspect of the author's personal loss. My thanks to NetGalley, Simon & Schuster, and the author, for providing me with an ARC for my review.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

    The jacket copy for this makes it sound like a true crime account, but it ended up being more of a musing on childhood friendships and the ways they can fall apart and not get put back together. The thing is, given the circumstances it ends up feeling creepily voyeuristic (despite the author reaching out to them, the murdered girl's parents never respond, and I spent a lot of the book wondering how they must feel about this account). It has a few touching moments, but I'm baffled at the love it' The jacket copy for this makes it sound like a true crime account, but it ended up being more of a musing on childhood friendships and the ways they can fall apart and not get put back together. The thing is, given the circumstances it ends up feeling creepily voyeuristic (despite the author reaching out to them, the murdered girl's parents never respond, and I spent a lot of the book wondering how they must feel about this account). It has a few touching moments, but I'm baffled at the love it's gotten in reviews.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Trin

    That bad intersection of memoir and true crime where it becomes all about the author's feelings, with the victims and the truth of what happened reduced to window-dressing. Were the feelings interesting, or beautifully expressed, there might still be some merit, but mostly they're as trite as the cliche of the title, which the book is supposedly trying to unpack. That bad intersection of memoir and true crime where it becomes all about the author's feelings, with the victims and the truth of what happened reduced to window-dressing. Were the feelings interesting, or beautifully expressed, there might still be some merit, but mostly they're as trite as the cliche of the title, which the book is supposedly trying to unpack.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Nevena

    An unfortunately bland memoir. It felt like it was written because the author wanted to write a memoir, not because she had anything to say. The result is a book that feels like it's benefitting from the murder of a young woman. All true crime books require horrific acts to have taken place, but they usually offer more than just violence. This is just a vague narration of a life cut short. It provides no details of life of the victim or the lives she touched, nor does it reflect on the justice s An unfortunately bland memoir. It felt like it was written because the author wanted to write a memoir, not because she had anything to say. The result is a book that feels like it's benefitting from the murder of a young woman. All true crime books require horrific acts to have taken place, but they usually offer more than just violence. This is just a vague narration of a life cut short. It provides no details of life of the victim or the lives she touched, nor does it reflect on the justice system or the media involvement. It's just a woman sharing her tenuous connection to a murder.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Sarah Marble

    This writer...made this all about her. 👎🏼

  26. 4 out of 5

    Ann

    Despite the titillating title and the many endorsements, I found this to be a disappointing read. It's not inappropriately titled "a memoir", but the problem is that it's the memoir of someone rather uninteresting! The book is all about Carolyn Murnick and her feelings, her life, her development from teenager to college student to young adult with responsibilities. And to give this narrative some shape, she has structured this book around the fact that her grade school friend Ashley, who later m Despite the titillating title and the many endorsements, I found this to be a disappointing read. It's not inappropriately titled "a memoir", but the problem is that it's the memoir of someone rather uninteresting! The book is all about Carolyn Murnick and her feelings, her life, her development from teenager to college student to young adult with responsibilities. And to give this narrative some shape, she has structured this book around the fact that her grade school friend Ashley, who later moved to Los Angeles, was murdered at age 22. Piquant detail : on the night she was murdered, she was supposed to go on a date with Ashton Kuschner, who actually arrived and rang her bell without answer. Titillating detail : Ashley had drifted into the world of stripping and escorting, a move that had shocked and confused the more bookish Carolyn the last time they had met, about a year prior to the murder. So.... we are treated to a book full of Carolyn's emotions and thoughts about Ashley, about their friendship, about their losing touch, about Ashley's awkward visit to NYC, where the two former best friends had very little to say to each other (more about that later), about sitting in a court room and listening to lawyers. But there's very little substance here -the friendship between the two young women had effectively ended years earlier and they lived on opposite coasts. At some points it seemed like the author was just trying to fill up space by writing paragraph after paragraph about either her emotions, or her emotions about her emotions. For instance, when she receives an envelope containing Ashley's autopsy report, she discusses, not how she feels, but how she thinks she should feel, or would feel, when she opens the envelope. This type of emotional navel-gazing was not of interest to me. If the book had had more of a true-crime feel, I probably would have minded the emotional overload less. But it doesn't. Yes, the author asks for the autopsy report, and yes, she attends some of the court dates, and yes, she visits the place where Ashley lived. But she seems either inept or unlucky : she flies out to LA for a court date, and the whole thing is over in a few minutes. Or due to a change in court schedule she has to fly back to NYC before the testimony she's interested in can take place. This is understandable : she has a day job and can take only so many days off to pursue this private interest, unlike true-crime writers who will happily dedicate a couple of weeks of their lives to following courtroom theatrics. So what are we left with? Nostalgia about the friendship between two grade school girls. Details about the life the author was leading in NYC at the time of Ashley's last visit. This, by the way, includes a bizarre episode where the author's love interest becomes totally fascinated by the gorgeous Ashley, only to have his roommate carry off the prize (i.e. spend the night with Ashley). I might have missed it because I was reading this too fast, but somehow this one night stand causes the author to consider the guy as a jerk. A decade later she visits him in Seattle and they spend an evening bar-hopping, with a strange attraction building between them... which then comes to nothing... and by next morning she's thoroughly irritated with him. I just couldn't follow this emotional see-saw, and frankly, I didn't care, either. We hear a lot about the friends she stays with when in LA for the trial, and since the husband is an astrologer, we have to wade through a couple of pages about his theories about how all serial killers have trouble in their water signs. I can hardly call that riveting reading. In summary : the book failed for me because it was full of "filler". It's not a true crime book and it's not even a coherent memoir of the author's life in NYC.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Aaron

    Though the author says up front that this is a "work of memoir," I found it far too shallow and self-absorbed to be a good memoir, and far too jumbled to be a good true crime read. It fails as a work of true crime because the author has trouble staying anchored to one time and place. Though the story unfolds in more or less one direction across 15 years or so, within one "scene" she occasionally wanders backward or forward along the timeline of her pseudo-investigation. She also employs the magaz Though the author says up front that this is a "work of memoir," I found it far too shallow and self-absorbed to be a good memoir, and far too jumbled to be a good true crime read. It fails as a work of true crime because the author has trouble staying anchored to one time and place. Though the story unfolds in more or less one direction across 15 years or so, within one "scene" she occasionally wanders backward or forward along the timeline of her pseudo-investigation. She also employs the magazine-style technique of foreshadowing future events: "What I didn't know is that two years from now, I would be..." Because she hasn't firmly pinned down the progression of events, that device quickly becomes confusing and irritating. The actual details and events of the case and court proceedings are fairly sparse, and the author seems far less concerned with relaying the facts or the crime and case, than in charting her own feelings about them and daydreaming about how her late friend would feel about them. Which could be tolerable, since again, this is intended as a work of memoir. But, as a memoir, it may be even worse. Good memoir is based on someone we want to spend time with telling us a story of their life which reveals some kind of deeper truth. But there's very little deeper truth to be found here--just a combination of half-formed concepts on friendship, and dreamy musings about how the departed might have felt about this or that, or might or might not have done. The violence of the crime involved meant that this book needed to either be a true crime work told straight, with less of the author in it and more of the facts, or a memoir detailing something that happened *to* the writer or others. "I just couldn't let it go," or "It haunted me" isn't enough justification for most readers to accept the author inserting herself into such intense events, without feeling that the writer is being a murder tourist. Plus, the author herself presents her own feelings about that insertion inconsistently. In one moment, she says she feels like an intruder in the courtroom at a preliminary hearing. Later, she's enthusing how she was at a work conference for a matter of *hours* before she'd already told people about this story, and recruited other attendees to go with her to scope out her late friend's strip joint. She makes a few light passes at describing her conflicted feelings about looking into the crime. But she certainly never seems conflicted about telling others about it. Two or three times, she makes a point to say that she brings it up right away when meeting new people--on first dates, at dinner parties--to practice her presentation of it and gauge their reactions. That type of desperate self-absorption undercuts any revelations or feelings about her friend's life, and made much of this book a total slog. There are much better examples of true crime memoirs written by people close to the victim--"My Dark Places," written by crime novelist James Ellroy about the murder of his mother in 1950s L.A., is a much, much better work along these lines.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Cherie

    This is the worst book I've read in a long time. I realized about 30-40% through it that it would be a waste of time, but it's hard for me to stop reading once I get that far in. I found this book at my library in the True Crime section. I think this hardly qualifies as True Crime. Yes, a crime happened and the crime is discussed. However, there are no experts or witnesses weighing in here. It's only the author: a woman who knew the victim in childhood and has now decided to make the whole ordeal This is the worst book I've read in a long time. I realized about 30-40% through it that it would be a waste of time, but it's hard for me to stop reading once I get that far in. I found this book at my library in the True Crime section. I think this hardly qualifies as True Crime. Yes, a crime happened and the crime is discussed. However, there are no experts or witnesses weighing in here. It's only the author: a woman who knew the victim in childhood and has now decided to make the whole ordeal a personal journey. The relationship between the two friends had drifted apart in the years leading up to the victim's murder. They hadn't seen each other (and possibly even spoken?) in a year before the victim was killed. I agree with the readers who were turned off by the author's insufferable voice. I get that this book is a memoir, so she is writing about her thoughts and her experience. And I thought the premise sounded kind of interesting... until I realized that the author simply wormed her way into the courts and the lives of the people who were actually close with the victim when she was murdered. The worst part is that this book could have been half as long as it is. There is so much filler here that it's actually ridiculous. The author spends countless pages just reflecting on "what ifs" -- like "What if Ashley was still here? Who would she be today? Would we still be friends?" There are so many rhetorical questions like that interspersed in the book. Additionally, the writing just isn't good. So many sentences with the phrases "it was as if" or "I felt as though." It was as if the author wanted to sound more educated. I felt as though she may have also been trying to hit a particular word count. I'm not trying to say that this woman shouldn't have been upset and rattled about the death of her childhood friend. Or even that it's weird that she follows up on the case or reaches out to Ashley's parents (multiple times to which they never responded). But I do think it's weird that she goes and visits the murder of scene of another one of the killer's victims. I think it's weird that she takes time off of work to fly across the country to sit at the preliminary court proceedings and thinks she should be on the witness stand. I think it's weird and a little gross that she often judges the intents of others (Ashley's friends or neighbors, the lawyers). I think it's obvious that she planned to write this memoir almost from the beginning and, if that's the case, I think it's an injustice to her dead friend.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Christina McLain

    Though I generally like gritty memoirs and well-told true crime stories, I felt that the author's take on the life and times of her childhood friend, Ashley Ellerin, and her horrific early death crosses the line into prurience and self-justification and really serves no-one well. Ellerin, whose life devolved from being a happy-go-lucky kid who was lots of fun to be around, to being a jaded stripper and sometime escort at 21, comes across as a beautiful young woman who was slowly killing her soul Though I generally like gritty memoirs and well-told true crime stories, I felt that the author's take on the life and times of her childhood friend, Ashley Ellerin, and her horrific early death crosses the line into prurience and self-justification and really serves no-one well. Ellerin, whose life devolved from being a happy-go-lucky kid who was lots of fun to be around, to being a jaded stripper and sometime escort at 21, comes across as a beautiful young woman who was slowly killing her soul with casual sex, drugs and s high-risk lifestyle. I know it's fashionable and relevant to blame the male gaze and rape culture on what happens to girls like Ashley who discover early on the tawdry tradeoffs which often go with the power to attract and conquer. But this story doesn't ever get to the heart of what happened to Ashley until it's too late to care. The chapter on the last weekend the two women spent together in 1999 in NYC shows us only too well the destructive effect beauty can have on friendship and relationships. Every where the two girls go, Ashley gets hit on, while Carolyn, who is obviously plainer or less glamorous, is ignored. When Carolyn's on again off again boyfriend hits on Ashley and though Ashley refuses him, the author is dismayed and envious and the fragile friendship is damaged. Though Ashley reaches out after that, the author can't forgive her and never sees her again. By the time we fast forward to the trial of Ashleys killer in 2009, the author has become guiltridden and obsessed with the case and all its what ifs.thst surround it. And that is understandable but it seems that she lacks the perspective and maturity to deliver the truth behind the crime. Though she tells us ceaselessly she is now a woman, and an accomplished woman, the story seems to be more about her and less and less sbout her dead friend. People who insinuate themselves into real crimes cases, I think, have to be really brilliant writers like Truman Capote or at least able to keep themselves out of the story unless necessary, as in the wonderful I'll be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara. Otherwise it's all about navel-gazing and that is sad. More to the point it's like killing the victim all over again. And that is moree than sad, its piling injustice on top of injustice.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Bill reilly

    It is back to my comfort zone of true crime, specifically, murder. Ashley Ellerin was stabbed to death in Hollywood Hills in February of 2001. The story is told by her childhood friend, Carolyn Murnick. They first met in the fourth grade and were close friends until the tenth grade when Ashley moved to California with her family. After a three year separation, the pair met for lunch where Ashley casually mentioned working as a stripper with occasional hook ups at a hotel. Oh great, the cops had It is back to my comfort zone of true crime, specifically, murder. Ashley Ellerin was stabbed to death in Hollywood Hills in February of 2001. The story is told by her childhood friend, Carolyn Murnick. They first met in the fourth grade and were close friends until the tenth grade when Ashley moved to California with her family. After a three year separation, the pair met for lunch where Ashley casually mentioned working as a stripper with occasional hook ups at a hotel. Oh great, the cops had to deal with yet another dead prostitute. A smart college girl should have known the risks of turning tricks. A good suspect should have been the guy in his fifties paying for the twenty-one year-olds car. At a club in New York City, Carolyn was astonished by the parade of men who hit on her “hot” friend and she was disappointed by her career choice. Seven years after the murder Carolyn decided to play detective on the unsolved case. In a strange twist, it turned out that Ashton Kutcher had a relationship with Ashley. A copy of the autopsy described each of the forty seven stab wounds in clinical detail; just another routine day at the office for the coroner. Carolyn made it to Los Angeles for the preliminary hearings for a suspect in the murder. The defense portrayed Ashley as a party girl with numerous lovers, including the defendant. I guess one of them could have turned out to be the character from Looking for Mr. Goodbar. Unfortunately, the author provides very little information about the case, instead droning on in redundant and tedious detail of her inner feelings. It was like reading the diary of an angst filled fifteen year-old. The second half is excruciating, with a few pages of an astrologer opining that many serial killers have disrupted water signs and a violently placed Mars. The king of them all, Ted Bundy, is included on this silly list. After 240 pages with no resolution in sight, I was an extremely unhappy reader. The Hot One is one cold read.

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...