Published by William Morrow ISBN 9780062390011
Hardcover, $26.99, 352 pages
Madeline Schwartz is a middle-aged housewife and mother of a teenage son, living a comfortable existence in 1960's Baltimore. But she is not satisfied with that anymore. She leaves her husband, moves to a small apartment in a different part of the city, and begins to look for a bigger meaning to her life.
She also begins a torrid, secret affair with a black police officer. She befriends Judith, a younger woman, and when a young girl goes missing, Maddie and Judith join the search party. When they find the body of the girl, a reporter from a local newspaper interviews Maddie, and Maddie decides to befriend him in order to get a job at the newspaper.
Lippman began her career as a newspaper journalist and Maddie's experiences at the paper have such a ring of authenticity to them that you can smell the ever-present cigarette smoke that permeates the newsroom. The newsroom is a male-dominated bastion, and Maddie has to maneuver her way to figure out how to rise in the ranks from assistant to the advice columnist to real reporter.
When a young black woman goes missing, Maddie asks why this woman's disappearance is less newsworthy. Cleo, the single mom of a young child, was dating a married man of prominence in the community. When her body is found in the fountain of a city park, the police show little interest in solving the case.
Maddie gets to know Cleo's mother, and ingratiates herself with the police detective in charge of the case. Her cop boyfriend warns her to stay away from it, but Maddie wants justice for Cleo.
The story alternates between Maddie and chapters narrated by Cleo, who is speaking from beyond to Maddie. There are also short chapters narrated by others, including the reporter Maddie works with, and a Baltimore Oriole baseball player, that give additional layers of depth to this powerful, immersive story.
You can add Maddie Schwartz to the long list of Lippman's strong and brilliantly drawn female characters, including Tess Monaghan, Lu Brant from Wilde Lake and Polly from Sunburn. I don't know of anyone who writes literary mysteries better than Laura Lippman, and I bow down to anyone who gives a shout-out to The Big Valley. I highly recommend Lady in the Lake.
Thanks to TLC Tours for putting me on Laura Lippman's tour. The rest of her tour stops are here: