It’s a huge honour and pleasure for me to be kicking off the blog tour for The Lady in the Lake by Laura Lippman which is out this Thursday 25th July. Huge thanks to Namra at Faber & Faber for the invite and my gorgeous review copy of the book.
About this book…
Cleo Sherwood disappeared eight months ago. Aside from her parents and the two sons she left behind, no one seems to have noticed. It isn’t hard to understand why: it’s 1964 and neither the police, the public nor the papers care much when Negro women go missing.
Maddie Schwartz – recently separated from her husband, working her first job as an assistant at the Baltimore Sun – wants one thing: a byline. When she hears about an unidentified body that’s been pulled out of the fountain in Druid Hill Park, Maddie thinks she is about to uncover a story that will finally get her name in print. What she can’t imagine is how many lives she is about to ruin, or how many hearts she’s about to break, by chasing a story that no-one thinks is hers to tell.
When I was on holiday about 7 years ago, I ran out of books to read and so on a trip to a local shopping centre I popped into The Works and grabbed a book I thought would be my cup of tea. That book turned out to be the first book I had ever read by Laura Lippman and it started a love affair with her books that has continued ever since. This book is slightly different to her others but in a good way so don’t worry! This actually feels more like the book she has always been leading up to and her invested experiences and emotions helped to deliver a wonderfully evocative historical mystery.
Maddie Schwartz has landed a job at the Baltimore Sun and is enjoying her life after leaving her husband. Having already discovered the body of a young girl, she becomes obsessed with having her own byline and the disappearance of Cleo Sherwood could be her big break. When a body is pulled from the fountain in Druid Hill Park, she is sure that it is Cleo and starts to investigate further. But in 1960s Baltimore there are lots of obstacles for Maddie to overcome and the themes raised by those obstacles formed the main storylines of this mystery.
I did love that there was a lot of truth behind the case of The Lady in the Lake and that a classically styled fictional “noir thriller” had been woven around it. But this isn’t just a whodunnit-it was so much more! Maddie is a woman ahead of her time, enjoying her new found freedom from her marriage with her new job and a new lover. Her persistence in looking to solve the disappearance of Cleo is founded upon her desire to succeed in an environment that is usually male dominated. So she has to work doubly hard to prove herself especially as no one really cares about a missing black woman, especially one deemed to be of loose morals. I really felt like I was viewing a genuine snapshot of the times as Laura Lippman described this period where women and blacks were deemed as not as important as white males so perfectly.
This was a tale told via multiple viewpoints-some very relevant to the mystery and others not-which could be confusing at times as sometimes you were never quite sure why their viewpoints were needed but I felt that they all added layers to the social story behind the characters and opened them up for further examination perfectly.
This cleverly crafted and compelling storyline was beautifully written and brought to a perfectly pitched conclusion that made me immediately want to google more details about the case this was based on.
Meet the author…
Laura Lippman was a reporter for twenty years, including twelve years at The Baltimore Sun. Her novels have won numerous crime fiction prizes, including the Edgar, Anthony, Nero Wolfe and Agatha awards in the US. As well as featuring in numerous end of year lists, her most recent novel Sunburn (2018) was nominated for the CWA Gold Dagger Award, won the eDunnit Award and was a Waterstones Book of the Month.