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Friday, August 31, 2012

Review - And When She Was Good

Today we are part of the blog tour for Laura Lippman's newest book.  This is a stand-alone suspense tale of a suburban madam.

Author: Laura Lippman

Copyright: August 14, 2012 (William Morrow) 320 pgs

Series: Stand alone

Sensuality: adult themes, prostitution

Mystery Sub-genre:

Main Characters:
  Heloise Lewis, secretly suburban madam

Setting: Modern day, Baltimore, Maryland

Obtained Through: TLC Book Tour/Publisher

Heloise used to be a common prostitute for Val, but when she is faced with having Val's child she makes decisions that will impact her for the next decade. She does this all for her child, determined to give a better childhood than she experienced.  She thinks that she has left the brutality of the street behind for her own carefully constructed and discreet high-paid escort service.  She runs the show and lives well now.  When another suburban madam is murdered, she doesn't think much about it - until she realizes that woman was from her past.  Her new life, meant to provide the best for her child, is beginning to fall apart. 

The story is told in both the present and Heloise's past.  The reader is filled in about her history as the Heloise in the present deals with her life unraveling.  That caused confusion once or twice, but mostly this technique allows the reader to see what in her past is influencing her present fear and decisions.

Heloise is a complex character.  She is a loner, street smart as well as self taught from books and online classes.  Most of all, she is a survivor and determined.  She will do most anything for her child. I rarely read a book where I feel like I have stepped into the main character's life.  This is one of them. Val, her pimp for many years, and the father of her child, is more than just a thug.  He is intelligent and a ruthless, opportunistic businessman who has not let go of his hold on her.  Beth, her pathetic mother, is equally well crafted.

The small town Heloise grows up in, the large house where Val keeps the prostitutes corralled, and even Heloise's suburban home are richly detailed.  The plot is spot on and the pacing builds to the climax.  There were plot twists and surprises.  I found myself telling Heloise what to do, not out of frustration with a poorly written character, but because I had become vested in her predicament.  The wrap up was satisfying. 

This was my first Laura Lippman (incredible as that seems) and I have to say I was surprised.  Initially, I was not sure about the premise of prostitution for an enjoyable story.  But Ms. Lippman expertly builds a believable tale of a woman who was dealt a bad life and engages the reader to root for her as she meets challenges and danger.

Rating: Near Perfect - Buy two copies: one for you and one for a friend.  If you can tolerate the swearing and prostitution in general, this is really that good.  If you are more sensitive towards these, consider reading a chapter or two and gauge your reaction.

Here's the tour schedule:

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

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The Insouciant Sophisticate said...

I've read a previous Lippman and enjoyed her writing style, which got me to request this release. I'm not sure about the cursing (hopefully the prostitution isn't described in too much detail) but I will definitely be giving this a shot.

Heather J. @ TLC Book Tours said...

Sounds like you were pleasantly surprised by this one! I'm looking forward to seeing Lippman at the Baltimore Book Festival later this month - I'm sure she'll be talking about this book.

Thanks for being on the tour.

A.F. Heart said...

Bookworm1858, the prostitution is not that graphic, enough is said that you know what is happening without the details in most cases. Lippman's focus is more the mental and emotional aspects of Heloise - not the lurid side of the profession. I was equally concerned, but I found she created the oppressive and down trodden world more than depicting the sex side of it. I hope that helps.

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