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

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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.


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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.

  2. 5 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

    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.

  4. 5 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.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth Wisker

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

  6. 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.

  7. 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."

  8. 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.

  9. 4 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.

  11. 4 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.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Lisa Fiyod

    Dull in every way. Weak.

  13. 5 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. 5 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. 5 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

    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.

  17. 4 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!

  18. 5 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.

  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. 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.

  21. 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?

  22. 5 out of 5

    Patrice Jones

    I have a lot of respect for this author. I don't know if I could tell the story of my childhood best friend's life and murder. And if I could, what lengths would I go to, to get the story? Even though this book started off slow, the desire to know more kept me going. After the first quarter of the book, the story picked up. The story of childhood friendship and how that can change as you get older really spoke to me. I don't think the author learned why her friend was murdered, but she did her b I have a lot of respect for this author. I don't know if I could tell the story of my childhood best friend's life and murder. And if I could, what lengths would I go to, to get the story? Even though this book started off slow, the desire to know more kept me going. After the first quarter of the book, the story picked up. The story of childhood friendship and how that can change as you get older really spoke to me. I don't think the author learned why her friend was murdered, but she did her best to learn all she could and to tell people the real story of her friend's character. A different kind of crime story, for sure.

  23. 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.

  24. 5 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 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." 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.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Sarah Marble

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

  26. 5 out of 5

    Belinda Frisch

    Susannah Cahalan describes Carolyn Murnick’s The Hot One as “riveting” on the cover copy, and I can’t think of a more apt description. A memoir more than anything conventional True Crime, The Hot One spans the years from Carolyn’s childhood friendship with victim Ashley Ellerin to her untimely, violent death and beyond. What happens when best friends drift apart? When you can’t take back whatever caused the rift? When you wonder who someone you were once inseparable from became in the year before Susannah Cahalan describes Carolyn Murnick’s The Hot One as “riveting” on the cover copy, and I can’t think of a more apt description. A memoir more than anything conventional True Crime, The Hot One spans the years from Carolyn’s childhood friendship with victim Ashley Ellerin to her untimely, violent death and beyond. What happens when best friends drift apart? When you can’t take back whatever caused the rift? When you wonder who someone you were once inseparable from became in the year before she died? How do you reconcile a nine-year-old pianist with a twenty-something stripper at a low-rent club in Vegas? How do you honor someone after you’ve disconnected? And how do you move on? First and foremost, I have to commend Carolyn’s writing. She’s a seasoned industry veteran and her skill and talent are apparent. I purchased The Hot One after reading a passage posted on a blog. The voice hooked me immediately. The only criticism I have is the constant recycling of the phrase “bearing witness.” It’s overused and while it may be the purpose of Carolyn’s writing this book (though I’m sure not the only one), the phrase becomes quickly redundant. As for the True Crime aspect of the book, Ashley’s murder is covered as is the alleged killer identified, but this isn’t a “follow the clues” kind of story nor is there a resolution as the trial is ongoing. More is said about who Ashley was from the viewpoint of others and through Carolyn’s final time with her a year before her death when it seems clear these were not the childhood friends detailed in the early chapters but two young women who grew irreparably apart. It is inherent in writers to write from the heart, and Carolyn’s feelings may be what makes this book unputdownable but I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that the whole thing doesn’t feel so much a platform to give Ashley an identification outside of her impressive Hollywood circles as it feels a little—self-serving. If Carolyn’s intention was to humanize and endear Ashley as a victim, she has perhaps only driven home that Ashley’s role as the “Party Girl” and her behavior contributed in unfair ways to her death. Throughout the trial everyone in Ashley’s life during her last year was questioned extensively about the extent to which Ashley partied. Drugs. Sex. LOTS of sex, and sex work at the Cheetah (made famous by the scandalous Showgirls movie of the 90s). There should be no cause-and-effect of too high heels or even working in a P&P (pasties and panties) bar as a dancer and one’s victimhood in a perfect world, but this isn’t a perfect world and risk is risk. To call this a proper homage when even the childhood stories refer to near-nude photographs might be an overstatement. Sex sells, I get it, but the sex in this story is front and center at the expense of what kind of woman Ashley might have been in Carolyn’s absence. Was she kind? Generous? What were her interests? Her goals? Did she want a family one day? What endeared her to those who spoke at her trial, the friends she had made in LA? I don’t mean to detract from Carolyn’s travel, time, effort and research, or even her grief but this story is written with a measure of reserve, of distance, and I wonder if there isn’t an unexplored facet that is the “real” Ashley (which I don’t factor into my rating because this is an excellent book even if I feel a bit exploitative enjoying it). For this young woman I will never know I am sad that more isn’t made clear about her life other than her being, even in death, The Hot One.

  27. 4 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.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Christina

    Ehhhhhhh. Okay, so, I LIKED this book. The author has a funny, clipped way of writing that felt like just chatting, which I like, especially for a memoir. However, I get the sense that maybe she doesn’t even know what the book is actually trying to be. It’s about the murder of her friend, and the trial, and her journey through grief—but Christ on a cracker, there is so much unneeded exposition. I don’t need all the little details of your sex life or where you lost your virginity or why you felt l Ehhhhhhh. Okay, so, I LIKED this book. The author has a funny, clipped way of writing that felt like just chatting, which I like, especially for a memoir. However, I get the sense that maybe she doesn’t even know what the book is actually trying to be. It’s about the murder of her friend, and the trial, and her journey through grief—but Christ on a cracker, there is so much unneeded exposition. I don’t need all the little details of your sex life or where you lost your virginity or why you felt like sleeping with the same sleaze that slept with your dead friend. And I certainly don’t need a full page on you mentally prepping yourself for crime scene photos you insist on seeing. The sections with the trial are better, I feel. The first half seems to ping pong between nostalgic memoir, wallowing self-pity and self-depreciation, and like, maybe I’ll make this a feminist thing! The afterword has more about #MeToo and being a girl in this world (which I’m all about) but it felt like she was just attaching it on so she could Make A Point. I feel like she tried to do this with a lot of things—describing how she’d tell her daughter about Ashley, touching on female friendships, briefly describing the male gaze and how that all relates to sexual power—but she doesn’t follow through with any of it, which just makes it feel like she’s grasping at straws to make it marketable. I almost wish this could go through another round of edits and be republished without all the “this MEANS something!” It’s real life; there is no symbolism. Tragedy doesn’t need to make a point. Sometimes it’s just tragic.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Arnied

    The Hot One wasn't that HOT. While it is a page turner you are basically just exploring what happens to many childhood friendships. People grow up and change often to the point where they have little in common but the past. That was the case with Carolyn and Ashley when Ashley was murdered in her LA apartment. This isn't a whodunit. We know whodunit. The book sort of fools you into thinking that Carolyn is going to find out things about the murder and shocking things about her childhood friend t The Hot One wasn't that HOT. While it is a page turner you are basically just exploring what happens to many childhood friendships. People grow up and change often to the point where they have little in common but the past. That was the case with Carolyn and Ashley when Ashley was murdered in her LA apartment. This isn't a whodunit. We know whodunit. The book sort of fools you into thinking that Carolyn is going to find out things about the murder and shocking things about her childhood friend that contributed to the murder. She really doesn't find out much about Ashley other than she lived a fast paced, edgy LA lifestyle. Most of the discovery comes from Carolyn trying to discover why she is obsessed with her friend's murder. It is interesting but I kept waiting for revelations that just didn't come. But maybe that is life. We are all waiting for that special Ah Ha moment. "Ah Ha, that's why I am insecure." "Ah Ha, that's why I like sneakers so much." "Ah Ha, that one day when we were kids is why I am the way I am." "Ah Ha, it was my relationship with dad that made me not do that one thing." Maybe the whole book was just to say there is no Ah Ha. Hmmm.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Molly

    A lot of people seem to find this book exploitative and self-serving, and while I've made similar comments about similar books, I didn't find that to be my impression while reading this one. (Though I do get those of you who find the writer self-absorbed and bitchy. I mean, it's hard not to be at least a little self-absorbed when writing a memoir, but still.) From my point of view, once you've had that sort of friendship where you can't tell where one of you ends and the other begins, it's hard t A lot of people seem to find this book exploitative and self-serving, and while I've made similar comments about similar books, I didn't find that to be my impression while reading this one. (Though I do get those of you who find the writer self-absorbed and bitchy. I mean, it's hard not to be at least a little self-absorbed when writing a memoir, but still.) From my point of view, once you've had that sort of friendship where you can't tell where one of you ends and the other begins, it's hard to sever emotional ties even when the friendship has drifted. Some people just become a permanent part of you. I never really got the feeling that she was inserting herself into someone else's tragedy to give her own life substance or meaning; this wasn't a random classmate or casual girlfriend. Those friendships where someone becomes your other half are a unique animal. I don't think anyone would be bothered by this book if Ashley had been her biological sister even if they hadn't remained close in adulthood. But it's still full of way more errors than a professional writer's book should have, and much of it just isn't all that interesting.

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