Saturday, August 25, 2012

And When She Was Good by Laura Lippman
When you take a 1,200 mile road trip, you have got to have a good audio book along for the ride, and Laura Lippman's latest mystery kept my daughter and I thoroughly entertained.  As Alex and I rolled through the ugliest scenery ever (there is nothing between Portland and Los Angeles, in case you were wondering), we listened to the tale of Helen/Heloise and the double-life she leads.  In the beginning, my daugher denigrated the whole idea of listening to a book, but less than an hour in, she was hooked.  The main character, Helen, is a nice little suburban soccer mom, who leads a nasty little double life as a madame and prostitute.  High-end hooker, but at the end of the day, still a hooker.  As the book progresses, the reader moves back and forth in time, seeing Helen's past life and what led to her current role as a madame.  We see the nasty people who warped her (charming dad, weak mom, vile pimp/boyfriend, drug-addled friends), as well as the suburbanites who befriend Heloise, never knowing of her other life.  With Lippman, a best-selling mystery writer, she's got to throw some murders in, which are thoughtful and well planned, but not nearly as engrossing as Helen's life and how it came to be so messed up.  The characters are very well drawn, without the stereotypes Lippman could have fallen back upon.  Helen is less than perfect, as is her handy assistant.  The friendly accountant is perhaps not so friendly, and the neighborly pastor is a gay-loving, liberal truth-teller.  Alex and I had some great conversations about what turns people to a particular way of life, and how hard/easy it is to get out, and if people really want to escape.  It's a surprisingly thought-provoking book, with a bit of a cliche-ish ending that ultimately doesn't wreck the enjoyment of the book.  If you like mysteries, it's a very good one.

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