Already praised as "a writing powerhouse" (USA Today) and "among the select group of novelists who have invigorated the crime fiction arena with smart, innovative, and exciting work" (George Pelecanos), New York Times bestseller Laura Lippman is constantly sending reviewers back to their thesauruses in search of new and greater accolades. Her brilliant stand-alone novel, And When She Was Good, only reinforces the fact that she stands tall among today's bestselling elite--including Kate Atkinson, Tana French, Jodi Picoult, and Harlan Coben (who raves, "I love her books ") Based on her acclaimed, multi-award-nominated short story Scratch a Woman, And When She Was Good is the powerfully gripping, intensely emotional story of a suburban madam, a convicted murderer whose sentence is about to be overturned, and the child they will both do anything to keep. Lippman has already won virtually every prize the mystery genre has to offer--the Edgar(R), Anthony, Agatha, and Nero Wolfe Awards, to name but a few. They'll now have to invent a few new awards just to keep up with her.
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published August 14th 2012 by William Morrow
ISBN 0061706876 (ISBN13: 9780061706875)
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SUBURBAN MADAM DEAD IN APPARENT SUICIDEThis is the story of the life of a prostitute, but it is so much more than that. Heloise is one of those suburban "madams" that you read about in the papers from time to time. Her life as been kept "compartmentalized", as she thinks of it, and most people only see one side of her life. Either they know her as the successful madam who runs her business...well, like a business... or they know her as a lobbyist widow raising a son on her own. And ne'er the twain shall meet. The one knows nothing of the other, with very few exceptions in her life.
The headline catches Heloise's eye as she waits in the always-long line at the Starbucks closest to her son's middle school.
I liked the character Heloise later in life. I wasn't always the biggest fan of her in her younger years. But part of that may be because the character wasn't as fully developed in her younger years. It was more like brief flashbacks over the years, so there were always holes left in the story. After a turbulent childhood growing up poor in a small town with an abusive father and a bowed mother who has submitted to her life, the present-day portion of the story takes place when Heloise (formerly "Helen") is 37-years-old and living in suburbia.
As an adult, Heloise gives every appearance of being a woman in total control of her life. I say "appearance", because even she must admit later that none of us truly have control. There are just too many things outside of our control. Heloise is trying to do things as "right" as she can, given that she works in an industry deemed "wrong".
This isn't just the story of a prostitute-- it is the story of a mother's love, and what a mother will do to protect her child. Growing with a mother who put her abusive husband (well, sort of husband) in front of her daughter, Heloise now puts her son a priority before everything else. Everything she does is for him.
While Heloise circumvents oncoming middle-age and a son entering his teens, she reassesses her life and decides it is time to restructure and reinvent. But as she is breaking free from the ties that bind, danger and ghosts linger in the shadows.
My final word: I enjoyed this book. It is my first Laura Lippman, and probably won't be my last. Engaging and just suspenseful enough to wonder where she's gonna go with a thread of the storyline, and containing so many elements of a story that I've had in my head for 20 years now, I found the story ultimately interesting, and Heloise a character for whom I could root.
Thank you to TLC Book Tours for allowing me to be part of this tour:
Check out the master schedule for the tour:
Tuesday, August 14th: The Blog of Lit Wits
Wednesday, August 15th: Cerebral Girl in a Redneck World
Thursday, August 16th: Book Dilettante
Monday, August 20th: Chaotic Compendiums
Tuesday, August 21st: Olduvai Reads
Wednesday, August 22nd: Peppermint PhD
Thursday, August 23rd: The Book Bag
Monday, August 27th: Book Addiction
Tuesday, August 28th: Mary’s Cup of Tea
Wednesday, August 29th: In the Next Room
Thursday, August 30th: Between the Covers
Friday, August 31st: Mysteries and My Musings
Monday, September 3rd: Don’t Mind the Mess
Tuesday, September 4th: A Bookish Way of Life
Wednesday, September 5th: libbysbookblog
Thursday, September 6th: No More Grumpy Bookseller
Friday, September 7th: so much shouting, so much laughter
Monday, September 10th: Twisting the Lens
Tuesday, September 11th: A Bookworm’s World
My Rating: 8 out of 10
I received a copy of this book to review through TLC Book Tours and the publisher, in exchange for my honest opinion. I was not financially compensated in any way, and the opinions expressed are my own and based on my observations while reading this novel.