by Laura Lippman
Published by William Morrow
Release Date: July 23rd 2019
Genres: Adult, Mystery, Suspense, Thriller
Format Read: ARC
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The revered New York Times bestselling author returns with a novel set in 1960s Baltimore that combines modern psychological insights with elements of classic noir, about a middle-aged housewife turned aspiring reporter who pursues the murder of a forgotten young woman.
In 1966, Baltimore is a city of secrets that everyone seems to know--everyone, that is, except Madeline "Maddie" Schwartz. Last year, she was a happy, even pampered housewife. This year, she's bolted from her marriage of almost twenty years, determined to make good on her youthful ambitions to live a passionate, meaningful life.
Maddie wants to matter, to leave her mark on a swiftly changing world. Drawing on her own secrets, she helps Baltimore police find a murdered girl--assistance that leads to a job at the city's afternoon newspaper, the Star. Working at the newspaper offers Maddie the opportunity to make her name, and she has found just the story to do it: a missing woman whose body was discovered in the fountain of a city park lake.
Cleo Sherwood was a young African-American woman who liked to have a good time. No one seems to know or care why she was killed except Maddie--and the dead woman herself. Maddie's going to find the truth about Cleo's life and death. Cleo's ghost, privy to Maddie's poking and prying, wants to be left alone.
Maddie's investigation brings her into contact with people that used to be on the periphery of her life--a jewelery store clerk, a waitress, a rising star on the Baltimore Orioles, a patrol cop, a hardened female reporter, a lonely man in a movie theater. But for all her ambition and drive, Maddie often fails to see the people right in front of her. Her inability to look beyond her own needs will lead to tragedy and turmoil for all sorts of people--including the man who shares her bed, a black police officer who cares for Maddie more than she knows.
I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
I absolutely hate to say it, but this book was exhausting. I haven’t had such a hard time finishing a book in years. I was pretty excited to finally read a Laura Lippman book. I have been eyeing Sunburn and What the Dead Know by her for a while but never picked it up (don’t worry, this book will not deter me from giving that one a chance), so when I had the chance to go ahead and read my first book by this author I may oversold it to myself.
This story takes place in the 1960’s, and while I am not opposed to reading fiction based in that time, I also just haven’t read much set in the 60’s. I am not sure if this contributed to my boredom or not; but I will say she did a great job of making it feel like the 60’s, the one you imagine in your head or have seen in movies. It felt right. I could easily picture it all.
A big thing I definitely think had an impact on my liking of this book was the characters. First of all, I didn’t really like any of them. Secondly, there were far too many perspectives and side stories. There was a chapter or more from basically EVERYONE EVER. Including, but not limited to, a ghost.
Actual image of me trying to hold on to every rando’s side story:
It became annoying. I get that they are all supposed to be providing bits and scraps that all come together to cross paths, but geez. I was so over it after the first few perspective changes.
Another issue for me was the snails pace of the story. I literally started to fall asleep every time I got a chapter or two in. I am a stay awake all night and read kind of girl, but it just wasn’t moving forward with any strength or urgency…. so it took me a long time to finish.
I’m sticking with 3 stars because the story wasn’t the actual issue for me, but my enjoyment was affected by the issues listed above. As this is a mystery I do not want to get too far into any plot details, but I would like to say things I also enjoyed so we can end this on a high note:
- The story was not bad – it was good even – just too slow and drawn out for my taste.
- I think Laura Lippman is a talented writer! I appreciate her attention to details.
- I believe many people will enjoy this book more than I did, especially those that like a more historical mystery.
- Speaking of history, this book did a good job of speaking of the times and societal issues of the 60’s.
- I do intend to read more books by her, even if this one wasn’t necessarily a hit with me.