Where I share my love of books with reviews, features, giveaways and memes. Family and needlepoint are thrown in from time to time.


Wednesday, August 29, 2012

and when she was good by Laura Lippman (Blog Tour and Book Review)

Check out all the blogs touring:
Sunday:  08/26  Wendy @ Minding Spot

Monday:  08/27   Vera @ Luxury Reading
                08/27   Heather @ Proud Book Nerd
Tuesday:  08/28   Kari @ From the TBR Pile
                08/28    Kathleen @ Jersey Girl Book Reviews

Wednesday:  08/29  Kristi @ Books and Needlepoint
                      08/29  Vicki @ I'd Rather Be Reading At The Beach
Thursday:    08/30  Mickey @ I'm a Book Shark
 Friday:  08/31  MK @ Popcorn Reads
              08/31  Cheryl @ Sweeping The USA

Title: and when she was good
Author: Laura Lippman
Publisher: William Morrow

About the Book:  When Hector Lewis told his daughter that she had a nothing face, it was just another bit of tossed-off cruelty from a man who specialized in harsh words and harsher deeds.  But twenty years later, Heloise considers it a blessing to be a person who knows how to avoid attention.  In the comfortable suburb where she lives, she's just a mom, the youngish widow with a forgettable job who somehow never misses a soccer game or a school play.  In the state capitol, she's the redheaded lobbyist with a good cause and a mediocre track record.

But in discreet hotel rooms throughout the area, she's the woman of your dreams -- if you can afford her hourly fee.

For more than a decade, Heloise has believed she is safe.  She has created a rigidly compartmentalized life, maintaining no real friendships, trusting few confidantes.  Only now her secret life, a life she was forced to build after the legitimate world turned its back on her, is under siege.  Her once oblivious accountant is asking loaded questions.  Her longtime protector is hinting at new, mysterious dangers.  Her employees can't be trusted.  One county over, another so-called suburban madam has been found dead in her car, a suicide.  Or is it?

Nothing is as it seems as Heloise faces a midlife crisis with much higher stakes than most will ever know.

And then she learns that her son's father might be released from prison, which is problematic because he doesn't know he has a son.  The killer and former pimp also doesn't realize that he's serving a life sentence because Heloise betrayed him. But he's clearly beginning to suspect that Heloise has been holding something back all these years.

With no formal education, no real family, and no friends, Heloise has to remake her life -- again.  Disappearing will be the easy part.  She's done it before and she can do it again.  A new name and a new place aren't hard to come by if you know the right people.  The trick will be living long enough to start a new life. 

My thoughts:  Well, the first word I thought of when I finished this book was 'smart'.  Well written, great unique storyline, characters that, while not having the same experiences, can still relate to in how she presents the story.  

I loved Heloise.  She was a survivor - She started out with a father who ignored who, to a father who beat her, and a mother who was just glad that someone else was taking some of the beatings - so she got out at the first chance she got, even though she wasn't out of high school yet.  Unfortunately the man, Billy,  she left with was worse than her father and in order to get out from under him, she hooked up with someone who, while providing for her physical comforts, never let her forget that he was in charge.  He, Val,  punished her for even getting a library card (because he didn't know how to read). You guessed it, for both of these men she turned tricks - the first to pay for Billy's drug use and the second to help pay for the lifestyle.  Val had a house full of women that worked for him, but for most of her time with him, Heloise was his favorite.

She got picked up by a cop who had been watching her for trying to shoplift a home pregnancy test. This turned out to be somewhat of a blessing, as she was able to trade her freedom to provide evidence against Val.  So Val is now in jail and she has his son (without his knowledge) but still feels the need to visit him in jail.  He gives her the idea and the money to start an escort service, but of course has to have a cut in the profits. 

For 12 years she lives like this - but she is smart, pays her taxes, has fake but plausible businesses to explain her money, and keeps her business separate from her personal life.  But as they say, all good things must come to an end.  When the suburban madam gets killed in the next county, a former employee tries to blackmail her, and she runs into another former prostitute who also tries to blackmail her - she sees that her luck in avoiding suspicion is beginning to run out.  

As I said before I got sidetracked, I loved Heloise - she was street smart - as well as being well-read.  She only had a GED and some online business classes to her name, but she kept informed of current affairs and learned in all situations, or I guess you could say, learned from her mistakes.  She loved her son and despite her lack of good parental examples, she seemed to have gotten it right.  

The book is told in the present, with you learning her backstory in flashbacks.  It moves along quickly and I read it in pretty much 2 sittings.  I was surprised by the ending as I did not figure on the outcome that it had.  About 3/4 of the way through I was telling my 20 year old daughter about it and I had in my head the way it was going to end.  I was wrong, but she and I both agreed on one of the characters - and on that point we were correct.  I wish I could share with you what that was, but it would be a spoiler.  

Point is - this is a great book - and I recommend it!

~I received a complimentary copy of this book from Partners in Crime Tours in exchange for my unbiased review.~

Photo credit by Jan Cobb

About the author: Laura Lippman has been awarded every major prize in crime fiction. Since the publication of What the Dead Know, each of her hardcovers has hit the New York Times bestseller list. A recent recipient of the first-ever Mayor’s Prize, she lives in Baltimore, Maryland, and New Orleans with her husband, David Simon, their daughter, and her stepson.
You can find out more about Laura at her website on facebook or at Harper Collins

Please enjoy this excerpt:
Monday, October 3
The headline catches Heloise’s eye as she waits in the always-long line at the Starbucks closest to her son’s middle school. Of course, a headline is supposed to call attention to itself. That’s its job. Yet these letters are unusually huge, hectoring even, in a typeface suitable for a declaration of war or an invasion by aliens. It’s tacky, tarted up, as much of a strumpet as the woman whose death it’s trumpeting.
Heloise finds it interesting that suicide must be fudged but the label of madam requires no similar restraint, only qualification. She supposes that every madam needs her modifier. Suburban Madam, D.C. Madam, Hollywood Madam, Mayflower Madam. “Madam” on its own would make no impression in a headline, and this is the headline of the day, repeated ad nauseam on every news break on WTOP and WBAL, even the local cut-ins on NPR. Suburban Madam dead in apparent suicide. People are speaking of it here in line at this very moment, if only because the suburb in question is the bordering county’s version of this suburb. Albeit a lesser one, the residents of Turner’s Grove agree. Schools not quite as good, green space less lush, too much lower-cost housing bringing in riffraff. You know, the people who can afford only three hundred thousand dollars for a town house. Such as the Sub­urban Madam, although from what Heloise has gleaned, she lived in the most middle of the middle houses, not so grand as to draw attention to herself but not on the fringes either.
And yes, Heloise knows that because she has followed almost every news story about the Suburban Madam since her initial arrest eight months ago. She knows her name, Michelle Smith, and what she looks like in her mug shot, the only photo of her that seems to exist. Very dark hair—so dark it must be dyed—very pale eyes, otherwise so ordinary as to be any woman anywhere, the kind of stranger who looks familiar because she looks like so many people you know. Maybe Heloise is a little bit of a hypo­crite, decrying the news coverage even as she eats it up, but then she’s not a disinterested party, unlike the people in this line, most of whom probably use “disinterested” incorrectly in conversation yet consider themselves quite bright.


and when she was good
Publisher/Publication Date: Harper Collins, Aug 14, 2012
ISBN: 978-0-06-170687-5
314 pages


bermudaonion said...

I'm excited about this book! I haven't read any of Lippman's work for a while.

Harvee Lau said...

I am curious about what you thought the ending would be. I wasn't surprised by it that I recall, but I agree Heloise is one clever lady.

CMash said...

Great review and post. I agree with Harvee, wondering what the ending is!!
Thank you!


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