Lippman, Laura. And When She Was Good.

NY: Morrow, 2012.

I only recently discovered Lippman, who has been delivering a well-received mystery series about a Baltimore private investigator for a decade and a half but has more recently been writing individual, non-series novels as well.

I stumbled across To the Power of Three (2005) and really enjoyed it, and this latest work is also very good. Heloise Lewis is a prostitute and makes no bones about it, but she’s now in her early 30s and has reinvented herself, partly by necessity, as a sexual entrepreneur. She’s a registered Maryland lobbyist but that’s only a cover for her lucrative business of supplying beautiful young women as “escorts” to the state’s movers and shakers. In alternating chapters, we learn how she manages her business in the present and how as a teenager she got sucked into “the life” in the first place, thanks to an abusive father and an acquiescent mother, neither of whom she has ever forgiven, and how through intelligence, determination, and the strength of her personality, she has managed to come out on top — sort of. Because she has an adolescent son now whose father is the pimp she put in prison for life on a murder rap, and whose long arm of retribution she still fears. And even though he doesn’t know Heloise was responsible for his incarceration — yet — he has a long memory, too. And then certain women she once knew begin to die in questionable circumstances and she has to reconsider her situation in her carefully compartmentalized life before it’s too late. Heloise is not an entirely admirable protagonist — no “heart of gold” here — but she’s certainly a sympathetic one. She’s made some errors in judgment and life has taught her how to be tough and why not to be generous, but she really is trying to not be a bad person. And Lippman pulls no punches about the depressing reality of even high-end prositution. It’s a good character study with a wham-bam ending you may not see coming, not entirely, and I recommend it.

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Published in: on 3 April 2013 at 6:56 am  Leave a Comment  
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