Book Review: And When She Was Good – Laura Lippman

Title: And When She Was Good
Author: Laura Lippman
ISBN: 9780061706875
Pages: 320
Release Date: August 14, 2012
Publisher: William Morrow
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Source: Publisher
Rating: 4 out of 5

Summary:

Heloise is a master at not attracting attention, which has led to her success as one of DC’s premier madams. She runs a discreet, high class escort service that her one-time protector helped her set up from prison. But things are starting to collapse around Heloise; her protector doesn’t know the part Heloise played in putting him in prison, and he might be getting out sooner than she expected. And people are starting to ask questions about Heloise’s business; it may be time for her to disappear. But that’s easier said than done, and Heloise must figure out how to close one chapter of her life and begin a new one.

Review:

And When She Was Good isn’t a traditional mystery novel. Instead, it’s a slow-simmering novel of suspense. At the beginning, all is well in Heloise’s world. She has her day-to-day problems, but nothing that could threaten her livelihood or lifestyle. But slowly, the dominoes start falling, and Heloise realizes the trouble she’s in. Lippman does a great job setting up her premise and fleshing out Heloise’s backstory. The reader really comes to know Heloise, to understand her, and that’s critical for this character-driven novel.

The story of And When She Was Good moves slowly, but steadily. It’s not a plodding or boring novel by any means; it’s just quiet, a book about one woman making her way in the world the best way she knows how. Heloise’s story is heartbreaking at times; she was taken advantage of again and again by the men in her life. It’s no wonder she set herself up in a business where she would have full control and power over men. That’s not to say this novel is anti-men; it’s just that Heloise does her best to ensure she doesn’t have to rely on anyone except herself and those she trusts implicitly.

The subject matter of And When She Was Good is definitely worth discussing. Prostitution can be a hot button issue; some say it degrades women, forcing them to be seen as objects. Others say it empowers them, giving them an option to make a living when they have no other means available. Lippman presents one aspect of prostitution in this novel: it was the key to Heloise’s freedom. But it doesn’t come without its downsides. Heloise is responsible for the health and well-being of her girls, not to mention she takes on a significant legal risk. It’s interesting to think about as you’re reading the novel, and it would make a great discussion subject for a book club.

Laura Lippman has an impressive ability to write multiple genres. Sometimes she writes straightforward mysteries, but other times, her novels lean more towards contemporary fiction with an element of suspense. It’s difficult to predict what you’ll get when you pick up one of her books; happily, And When She Was Good did not disappoint. It’s an absorbing read, and though it does move at a slower pace than a traditional suspense novel, the character development is more than worth sitting through. Heloise becomes more than just words on a page to the reader; the reader becomes invested in her future, frantic to help her find a way out of the quagmire she’s found herself in. It’s an absorbing read, to be sure, and it makes me look forward to what Lippman does next.

Other books by Laura Lippman:

Another Thing to Fall
Baltimore Blues
Butchers Hill
By a Spider’s Thread
Charm City
The Girl in the Green Raincoat
I’d Know You Anywhere
In a Strange City
The Last Place
Life Sentences
The Most Dangerous Thing
No Good Deeds
The Sugar House

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Comments

  1. I didn’t know she was writing a whole book with Heloise’s story! She’s the subject of a short story and novella that are part of Hardly Knew Her.

    I was disappointed in The Most Dangerous Thing, so I’m glad that this one looks good.

  2. I didn’t know she was writing a whole book with Heloise’s story! She’s the subject of a short story and novella that are part of Hardly Knew Her.

    I was disappointed in The Most Dangerous Thing, so I’m glad that this one looks good.

  3. This is one that I want to read, and since I have read almost all of Lippman’s standalone novels, I have a really good feeling that I will be getting to this one soon. I find the subject matter compelling, as well as the fact that Heloise acts as her own agent. Wonderful review today, as usual 🙂 I always find the books you read so absorbing and exciting!

  4. This is one that I want to read, and since I have read almost all of Lippman’s standalone novels, I have a really good feeling that I will be getting to this one soon. I find the subject matter compelling, as well as the fact that Heloise acts as her own agent. Wonderful review today, as usual 🙂 I always find the books you read so absorbing and exciting!

  5. I’m really looking forward to this one. I don’t think I’ve read many of her books.

  6. I’m really looking forward to this one. I don’t think I’ve read many of her books.

  7. I was thinking of taking this to the beach next week. Sounds like a good pick!

  8. I was thinking of taking this to the beach next week. Sounds like a good pick!

  9. Oh, I am a big Lippmann fan, especially the stand alones. I must get my hands on this one!

  10. Oh, I am a big Lippmann fan, especially the stand alones. I must get my hands on this one!

  11. I just finished this one and reviewed it today. It was a faster read to me…maybe bc I got to know here well enough in the beginning that I wanted to know what was going to happen to her as fast as possible…who knows? I did enjoy this one; it’s my first Lippman though so what would you recommend next?

  12. I just finished this one and reviewed it today. It was a faster read to me…maybe bc I got to know here well enough in the beginning that I wanted to know what was going to happen to her as fast as possible…who knows? I did enjoy this one; it’s my first Lippman though so what would you recommend next?

  13. Patti – My favorite Lippman books are I’d Know You Anywhere and the Tess Monaghan series, which starts with Baltimore Blues.

  14. Patti – My favorite Lippman books are I’d Know You Anywhere and the Tess Monaghan series, which starts with Baltimore Blues.

  15. Touche. Great arguments. Keep up the good spirit.

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