Lady in the Lake, by Laura Lippman

9 Jan
lady in the lake laura lippman

Four of 5 stars

This book is pretty fantastic, but I feel the book cover combined with the title kind of misleads what the book is. Yes, it’s a murder mystery, but it’s also an historical fiction and it’s way above the usual mystery genre in writing quality. Having read the book now I get what the cover is doing, but I wish it looked less average mystery paperback book-y.

I’ve always adored stories that are narrated by several characters, as it gives you a much better picture of what is actually going on, and insights into how certain character’s views are shaped. I know it annoys some readers of this book, and this book does go all the way into letting us hear from every single minor character. But what that does here is give us many more pieces of the puzzle of what Baltimore was like in the 1960s. In this book the murder just serves as a reason to (attempt to) understand the racial and class issues of that time and place, the gender roles and expectations of that time and place, and the pretty sorry state of marital match-ups of the time. Men and women are so forced into their gender roles that they have nothing in common and no way to communicate with each other. I’m generalizing, but the limitations forced onto all genders, races and religions, the expectations of behavior, they hurt just about everyone. In the end, in this case, it led to murder.

My young self from the 1980s related completely to Maddie in this book. Bursting against all the restrictions and expectations, yet still feeling unwilling to break certain rules. She’s a complicated character who ends up hurting several people to achieve her own happiness, and accidentally hurts even more as she tries to do what she feels is the right thing to do.

I wanted to give the book 5 stars, but the end felt a little flat to me. The reveal was shocking and took me completely off guard, but the end of Maddie’s story, the telling of it, just didn’t excite me at all.

I’ve never read anything by Laura Lippman before, but I would absolutely try another book from this author. I really loved this one.

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