I'm a long time fan of author Laura Lippman and her Tess Monaghan series. But Lippman has written a number of stand alone novels that I've really enjoyed as well. Every book is an adventure as you're never quite sure what to expect from this award winning author.
When I read the opening chapters of And When She Was Good, I felt like I had already met the protagonist - Heloise. On further investigation I found I had. Lippman contributed a story to an anthology called Death Do Us Part in 2006 that featured Heloise - a high end prostitute.
Heloise is now a madam - running her own service. She's a single mom to twelve year old Scott. To everyone in her suburban neighbourhood, she's a widow who works as a lobbyist for wage parity. But in her basement office, she runs a successful and elite escort service. And she's very, very careful to keep the parts of her life separated. But the past has a way of catching up.....
Lippman has written a book that has mystery, crime and suspense elements to it. And they're good, but not edge of your seat stuff. (Who the bad guy is is fairly obvious) The basic premise of the book has been done before, but Lippman's exploration of prostitution does generate lots of food for thought.
Instead, it was Heloise's story that was the big draw. We follow her life from a teen in a dysfunctional family, to a young woman falling in with the wrong man, to working for a really wrong man and to the birth of her son. And the desire to protect him at all costs. Heloise intrigued me - her instinct to survive, her strength and her drive were admirable. I applauded her 'do what you have to do attitude', but unfortunately, I just found I never really liked her. But I did enjoy her story, although I found the ending a little too neatly tied up. Read an excerpt of And When She Was Good.
"Laura Lippman was a reporter for twenty years, including twelve years at The (Baltimore) Sun. She began writing novels while working fulltime and published seven books about “accidental PI” Tess Monaghan before leaving daily journalism in 2001. Her work has been awarded the Edgar ®, the Anthony, the Agatha, the Shamus, the Nero Wolfe, Gumshoe and Barry awards. She also has been nominated for other prizes in the crime fiction field, including the Hammett and the Macavity. She was the first-ever recipient of the Mayor’s Prize for Literary Excellence and the first genre writer recognized as Author of the Year by the Maryland Library Association." You can find Lippman at her website and on Facebook.