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  • A Disappointing Read

    Laura Lippman's "Lady in the Lake" has received excellent reviews, but personally I don't think this book lives up to the hype surrounding it. In mid-1960's Baltimore, former housewife Maddie Schwartz has left her husband and teenage son. She finds work at a newspaper and is interested in the murder of a young black woman named Cleo. Her search for Cleo's murderer involves Maddie in a number of interesting circumstances. While the book started out well, by about 2/3 through the book I found the story line monotonous and the book a disappointing read.

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  • very atmospheric

    This was my first time in decades reading anything by Laura Lippman, so I really went into this with almost no expectations. I loved the setting and the atmosphere – 1960s Baltimore, with very different attitudes at that time towards women working, mixed-race relationships, divorce, etc. Although I was only a child in the 1960s, Lippman’s writing echoes what I remember hearing many adults say at the time. Her writing is clear and really evokes a sense of time and place. I also liked the plot, and there is a major twist that comes in an unexpected way, and at an unexpected time, that really adds to the story. And I liked the way the protagonist, Maddie, develops depth throughout the book. With that said, I had two issues that diminished my enjoyment of the book ever so slightly. First, I found the multiple points of view to be a smidge jarring. This is, I think, perhaps a bit of a personal idiosyncrasy – I tend in general not to like multiple points of view. This probably won’t bother many people. The second issue involves a very minor spoiler for a very early part of the book, so skip the next paragraph if you wish… My second issue was that I simply had a lot of trouble imagining that Maddie would leave her marriage in quite such an unplanned way. I could imagine that she would not accurately predict or prepare for how things would work out early on, and thus she would be surprised. But I had trouble imagining that she would really not have almost any plans at all. Perhaps this was meant to be indicative of how truly sheltered she had been, but it just caused a hiccup for me. After a few more chapters, this didn’t really matter anymore, and I just sort of put it aside, but at the time I was reading about it, it annoyed me. In any case, in the end, both my issues are minor. I very much enjoyed the book, and will look for other Lippmann titles in the future. I would like to thank NetGalley and Faber & Faber for the ARC they provided in exchange for an honest review.

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  • More than a Mystery

    There's so much going on in this book. It's a mystery, but it's also about a woman having a mid-life crisis (back in the days before we had a name for it) and trying to forge a new life for herself. It's told from multiple points of view, and with flashbacks. As the central character, Maddie, works toward her goal of becoming a reporter (with no journalistic training), the multiple points of view show the things she's caught in her investigative efforts - as well as the things she's missed. For me there was also a nostalgia factor - set in 1966, I could relate to much of it as my mother was right around Maddie's age at that time, and I was about the age of Maddie's son. But it's not a sanitized version of the time, sexism and racism are both well-represented, as are the roots of changing attitudes. Overall I enjoyed this one - it isn't exactly a happy book, but it was well worth the read, both for the writing and for the story. (And as a sort of homage to Marjorie Morningstar, which I've read a couple of times but long ago - it's moved my planned re-read up my TBR list.)

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  • excellent read!

    Fans of Laura Lippman know that the city of Baltimore is a strong character in and of itself in all of her novels and that's true here as well. Maddie Schwartz is a woman who needs to find her place in the world- or at least in 1966 Baltimore. She leaves her husband and son, moves to a small apartment, and finds herself trying to sell her wedding and engagement rings. This leads her down the path to her future. Part of a group looking for small Tessie Fine who has gone missing, she spots the girl's body. An impulsive act declaring that she's been robbed puts her in touch with Ferdie, an African American police officer who becomes her lover. An exchange of letters with the suspect in the Fine case leads her to a newspaper career and it is there that a random call to the parks department about a missing light leads her to the story of Cleo, who has been murdered and left in a fountain. There are many voices in this novel, most notably Maddie and Cleo's (although Paul Blair (!) makes an appearance as well.). I liked this as a device- sometimes the smallest player has input that will be critical later. Maddie's terrific. There's a twist I did not see coming, which was a bonus point. Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC. As always with Lippman, and as a native of the city, I loved the opportunity to revisit places I'd almost forgotten. And then there's the phrase "a Baltimore bachelor!" An excellent read.

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