Friday, December 28, 2012

And When She Was Good, by Laura Lippman

Heloise finds herself fascinated with the legal case of a suburban madame who got caught, and eventually committed suicide.  Part of the reasoning behind Heloise's interest is that she, too, is a suburban madame.  After an odd childhood, with a tense family life, Heloise, then known as Helen, found herself wrapped up with a drug addict, stripping to make money.  It was not a huge leap to go from stripping to turning tricks.  And once in the business, Helen was caught, unable to do anything else with her life.  So how did she go from Helen, young prostitute, to Heloise, suburban mom and madame?  And will she end up getting caught like that other madame?

If my short summary of this book in the paragraph above seems a little disjointed, it is because the book too seems a little disjointed.  We learn pretty quickly that Heloise is a madam, but it takes a while to really learn anything else about her.  Each chapter alternates between present scenes and flashback scenes, and at first it is unclear that Heloise and Helen are the same person.  I found there to be no real transitions between the chapters, so these switches in time felt very abrupt.  It is only about 2/3 of the way through the book that the pieces start to come together.

I really liked the concept of the story.  It is not often I read books about prostitutes, so the plot and storyline seemed novel and fresh.  However, the execution, switching from past to present and back, really removed me from the story.  These flashbacks should have made me feel like I knew Heloise/Helen better, that her character would be better developed as I learned her backstory, yet I felt it actually hindered me in my attempt to connect to this character.

As far as mysteries go, I found this to have very little mystery to it.  Too much time was spent setting up Heloise's story for me to even care about the dead madame and how it may come into play.  It is no surprise that Heloise is in danger.  I would call this book more of a suspense novel than a mystery, but even the suspense falls a little flat.  The book will probably appeal more to readers of suspense or dramatic novels, rather than mystery lovers.  Not a bad book, just a little flat.

I received a review copy courtesy of the Amazon Vine program in exchange for my honest review.



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