I’ve only read one prior book by Laura Lippman and I didn’t much care for it – see Baltimore Blues – rating C-. But the 4-Mystry-Addicts group decided to read this one and it did have good reviews. Besides, it’s a stand-alone, so I went ahead and tried it. That was not my best move.
Rating C / crime
Louise (Lu) Brandt is the ambitious and perfectionist new state’s attorney for Howard County, Maryland. She is also the widow of a very prominent venture capitalist and has two young children, twins, to care for. She currently lives in her father’s house – he was state’s attorney prior to retirement. Her elder brother, AJ, is a prominent attorney in his own right.
Told in alternating sections of 1st and 3rd person from the protagonist’s point of view, the narrative sometimes gets a bit uneven and in my opinion draws too much attention away from the main plot. It’s function is mainly character development – how did Lu get to be the way she is – and that slows down the story considerably. On the other hand, the 1st person is the adult Lu remembering her life as a child – the motherless daughter of a very competitive father and brilliant older brother living in the town in which they grew up, have old friends and back-stories.
In the present day Lu has a pending murder case which brings up old memories. She also has her father and brother and children to deal with. The pathetic young man who has been charged with the murder has a history with Lu and her brotheer as well as some psychological issues. There are other problems with the case, but Lu is determined to convict him of 1st degree murder.
The youthful Lu has to deal with teenage sex, racial differences, her famous father and super-popular brother, being motherless and more. There’s too much of this background business for a crime novel. It’s well done but really takes most of the tension away from the main plot.