Lady in the Lake by Laura Lippman

Book Description:

Published: July 23, 2019

Format: Audio/OverDrive

The revered New York Times bestselling author returns with a novel set in 1960s Baltimore that combines modern psychological insights with elements of classic noir, about a middle-aged housewife turned aspiring reporter who pursues the murder of a forgotten young woman.

In 1966, Baltimore is a city of secrets that everyone seems to know–everyone, that is, except Madeline “Maddie” Schwartz. Last year, she was a happy, even pampered housewife. This year, she’s bolted from her marriage of almost twenty years, determined to make good on her youthful ambitions to live a passionate, meaningful life.

Maddie wants to matter, to leave her mark on a swiftly changing world. Drawing on her own secrets, she helps Baltimore police find a murdered girl–assistance that leads to a job at the city’s afternoon newspaper, the Star. Working at the newspaper offers Maddie the opportunity to make her name, and she has found just the story to do it: a missing woman whose body was discovered in the fountain of a city park lake.

Cleo Sherwood was a young African-American woman who liked to have a good time. No one seems to know or care why she was killed except Maddie–and the dead woman herself. Maddie’s going to find the truth about Cleo’s life and death. Cleo’s ghost, privy to Maddie’s poking and prying, wants to be left alone.

Maddie’s investigation brings her into contact with people that used to be on the periphery of her life–a jewelery store clerk, a waitress, a rising star on the Baltimore Orioles, a patrol cop, a hardened female reporter, a lonely man in a movie theater. But for all her ambition and drive, Maddie often fails to see the people right in front of her. Her inability to look beyond her own needs will lead to tragedy and turmoil for all sorts of people–including the man who shares her bed, a black police officer who cares for Maddie more than she knows.

Review –

In this most recent book by Laura Lippman, she tells the story of Maddie Schwartz, an attractive thirty-seven year-old Jewish housewife who abruptly leaves her husband and son to pursue a long-held ambition to be a journalist, and Cleo Sherwood, an African-American cocktail waitress about whom little is known.

Sherwood’s body was found in a lake in a city park months after she disappeared, and while no one else seems to care enough to investigate, Maddie becomes obsessed—partly due to certain similarities she perceives between her life and Cleo’s, partly due to her faith in her own detective skills.

The story unfolds from Maddie’s point of view as well as that of Cleo’s ghost, who seems to be watching from behind the scenes, commenting  on Maddie’s nosing around like a bull in a china shop after getting a job at one of the city papers.

We also see her effect on some of the people she comes into contact with: a jewelry store clerk, an about-to-be-murdered schoolgirl, “Mr. Helpline,” a bartender, a political operative, a waitress, a Baltimore Oriole, the first African-American female policewoman (these last two are based on real people), and many more. Though allusive for one, make a single appearance  they greatly add to the enjoyment of the novel.

Maddie’s ambition propels her forward despite the cost to others, including the family of the deceased and her own secret lover, a black policeman.

To achieve realism for the newspaper part of the story the author interviewed associates of her father, Baltimore Sun journalist Theo Lippman Jr., and included  fascinating historical facts.

Mixing noir with hints of hard-boiled fiction, Lady in the Lake gives readers unlikeable but entertaining characters surrounding a mystery loosely based on actual events of the time period.

Five stars!

Elevation by Stephen King

Book Description:

Published: October 30, 2018

Format: Audio/OverDrive

The latest from legendary master storyteller Stephen King, a riveting, extraordinarily eerie, and moving story about a man whose mysterious affliction brings a small town together—a timely, upbeat tale about finding common ground despite deep-rooted differences.

Although Scott Carey doesn’t look any different, he’s been steadily losing weight. There are a couple of other odd things, too. He weighs the same in his clothes and out of them, no matter how heavy they are. Scott doesn’t want to be poked and prodded. He mostly just wants someone else to know, and he trusts Doctor Bob Ellis.

In the small town of Castle Rock, the setting of many of King’s most iconic stories, Scott is engaged in a low grade—but escalating—battle with the lesbians next door whose dog regularly drops his business on Scott’s lawn. One of the women is friendly; the other, cold as ice. Both are trying to launch a new restaurant, but the people of Castle Rock want no part of a gay married couple, and the place is in trouble. When Scott finally understands the prejudices they face–including his own—he tries to help. Unlikely alliances, the annual foot race, and the mystery of Scott’s affliction bring out the best in people who have indulged the worst in themselves and others.

Review –

Mr. King’s new novella Elevation  is a change of pace in a few ways. It’s a quick, satisfying read, as opposed to his more epic (though still satisfying) recent works like Sleeping Beauties and The Outsider. And there’s still a weird, unnatural situation (it is Stephen King, after all) but with an undercurrent of humanity and tolerance in the face of modern social strife at the core of resident Scott Carey’s odd tale.

It’s a feel-good tale with a definite whiff of the bittersweet, so no one should worry he’s turning into Nicholas Sparks or Richard Paul Evans. (Again: Stephen King, remember?) This is just the sign of a master simply elevating his own legendary game yet again.

While it was not a five-star book for me, I still very much enjoyed listening to Mr. King read his latest book.

Cop Town by Karin Slaughter

Book Description

June 24, 2014
Karin Slaughter, author of the bestselling Will Trent novels, is widely acclaimed as “one of the best crime novelists in America” (The Washington Post). Now she delivers her first stand-alone novel: an epic story of a city in the midst of seismic upheaval, a serial killer targeting cops, and a divided police force tasked with bringing a madman to justice.Atlanta, 1974: As a brutal murder and a furious manhunt rock the city’s police department, Kate Murphy wonders if her first day on the job will also be her last. She’s determined to defy her privileged background by making her own way—wearing a badge and carrying a gun. But for a beautiful young woman, life will be anything but easy in the macho world of the Atlanta PD, where even the female cops have little mercy for rookies. It’s also the worst day possible to start given that a beloved cop has been gunned down, his brothers in blue are out for blood, and the city is on the edge of war.Kate isn’t the only woman on the force who’s feeling the heat. Maggie Lawson followed her uncle and brother into the ranks to prove her worth in their cynical eyes. When she and Kate, her new partner, are pushed out of the citywide search for a cop killer, their fury, pain, and pride finally reach the boiling point. With a killer poised to strike again, they will pursue their own line of investigation, risking everything as they venture into the city’s darkest heart.Relentlessly paced, acutely observed, wickedly funny, and often heartbreaking, Cop Town is Karin Slaughter’s most powerful novel yet—a tour de force of storytelling from our foremost master of character, atmosphere, and suspense.

Review –
This is a very well written stand-alone novel by Karin Slaughter, who is known for her Will Trent Series.
It takes place in Atlanta, Georgia in 1974 when women were new to police departments and blacks barely tolerated. It is realistic and the bad language and four letter words are plentiful but the story wouldn’t be realistic without them. 
A fantastic read and another win for Karin Slaughter,
I gave it 5 stars *****
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We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

Book Description:

Published: May 13, 2014

 

A beautiful and distinguished family.
A private island.
A brilliant, damaged girl; a passionate, political boy.
A group of four friends—the Liars—whose friendship turns destructive.
A revolution. An accident. A secret.
Lies upon lies.
True love.
The truth.

We Were Liars is a modern, sophisticated suspense novel from National Book Award finalist and Printz Award honoree E. Lockhart.

Read it.
And if anyone asks you how it ends, just LIE.

 

Review –

I really didn’t know how to feel about this book when I first started listening to it, but it was only five discs long so what did I have to lose?

It involves a private island, three sisters of a demanding, dominating father and three cousins, all rich and one boy who is not but is allowed to come to the island also during the summer months. They have good time and bad times and times that Cadence, the protagonist,  can’t remember because of the severe migraine headaches she suffers as the result of an accident the summer of her 15th year. After the accident she isn’t allowed to go back to the island because of her fragile condition and headaches. She sends emails to her two cousins which are never answered and wonders why Gat, the boy she loves from New York hasn’t been to see her.  Finally she is there on the island  again at the age of seventeen enjoying  their company and having her aunts, Grandfather and other cousins tip toeing around her. Why, she wonders?

The story deals with teen angst, issues of class and race and mostly on the dysfunctional family that she is a part of and has such a profound effect on her and her missing memories.

The ending was one that I did not see coming and made me cry. I had to pull over (I was listening to this in my car while running errands) until I could get a grip. This is another book that will haunt me for a very long time.

I rated this book 5 stars *****

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