Published by William Morrow on July 23, 2019
Source: the publisher
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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 jewelry 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 the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Lady in the Lake is so good! I suspected it would be given how much I loved Lippman’s Sunburn last year. When I started Lady in the Lake, I fell right into Ms. Lippman’s storytelling all over again and now, after two of her books, I can see that hers are stories that I’ll be looking forward to with every single release.
Maddie decides to leave her marriage and take charge of her own life, which isn’t the most normal course for women in the 1960’s, even in a big city like Baltimore. When Maddie becomes instrumental in the investigation of a missing eleven-year-old girl, she realizes that she enjoys investigating and seeks out a job at a local newspaper. She then decides she wants to research the murder of a woman that was found in a lake, even after the community and the authorities have seemingly moved on from that case.
Lady in the Lake has a story structure that I really love: Maddie’s point-of-view is the main POV. But several other characters have chapters with their own perspectives included, and I absolutely loved that. It may seem like it is insignificant at first, but there is a reason that all of these parts are included. Most of the time, we only hear from these characters briefly, and sometimes it seems like what they have to say might not be as directly relevant as, perhaps, what Maddie would have to say. But I really feel like hearing from the regular everyday people around Maddie (a policeman, a person at the movies, a bartender, the actual murder victim herself, etc) gives the story a more robust, full feeling. It felt like I was able to walk all the way around the story and look at it from multiple angles at once, instead of only thru Maddie’s eyes. In fact, I think I liked the inclusion of these extra characters’ perspectives as much as (or maybe even more than) I liked Maddie herself.
I just loved this story. I feel like I loved it in the same way that I loved Sunburn. I was completely entertained for the entirety of the book. Not only is there a great mystery in here, but the 1960’s really come alive in the writing. There’s a definite sense of time and place, and a whole culture of how women were treated at this time. Also, people of color were treated differently than white people. For example, the missing child was white and her case was treated very differently than the non-white woman’s case, which Maddie pursued with determination. Women in relationships and how they behave in romantic relationships and even in the workplace was also a theme, and I just loved the way Ms. Lippman presented every one of these things.