Friday, August 31, 2012

And When She Was Good, by Laura Lippmann

And When She Was Good is the story of Heloise (nee Helen) Lewis, a madame in suburban Baltimore. When another madame in the area is arrested and then commits suicide (or is she murdered?), Heloise begins to feel threatened. She is concerned that she might be exposed and arrested, her life ruined. She is also worried about her physical safety and that of her son Scott, the child of her former pimp Val, who does not know Scott exists; Val is in prison for murder, but when Heloise learns that the dead madame was another of Val's former "girls," she wonders if he is killing everyone who saw him commit the crime (not only did she see it, she's the one who turned him in to the police).

The book is a psychological thriller that takes place in Heloise's head, as she reflects on her childhood with an abusive father and the events that led her into a life of prostitution while trying to figure out how to save herself from harm, both physical and reputational. Unfortunately, the book simply isn't very suspenseful; nor is Heloise a sympathetic character--quite the opposite. She blames her parents, Val, and others for her problems, taking no responsibility for the bad decisions she has made. Does she get killed or ruined? In the end, I really didn't care.

While I have been a fan of Laura Lippmann, her two most recent books have not been up to par. Bring back Tess Monaghan!

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