Perennial New York Times and nationally bestselling author and acclaimed multiple–prize winner Laura Lippman delivers a brilliant novel about a woman with a secret life who is forced to make desperate choices to save her son and herself.
When Hector Lewis told his daughter that she had a nothing face, it was just another bit of tossed-off cruelty from a man who specialized in harsh words and harsher deeds. But twenty years later, Heloise considers it a blessing to be a person who knows how to avoid attention. In the comfortable suburb where she lives, she's just a mom, the youngish widow with a forgettable job who somehow never misses a soccer game or a school play. In the state capitol, she's the redheaded lobbyist with a good cause and a mediocre track record.
But in discreet hotel rooms throughout the area, she's the woman of your dreams—if you can afford her hourly fee.
For more than a decade, Heloise has believed she is safe. She has created a rigidly compartmentalized life, maintaining no real friendships, trusting few confidantes. Only now her secret life, a life she was forced to build after the legitimate world turned its back on her, is under siege. Her once oblivious accountant is asking loaded questions. Her longtime protector is hinting at new, mysterious dangers. Her employees can't be trusted. One county over, another so-called suburban madam has been found dead in her car, a suicide. Or is it?
Nothing is as it seems as Heloise faces a midlife crisis with much higher stakes than most will ever know.
And then she learns that her son's father might be released from prison, which is problematic because he doesn't know he has a son. The killer and former pimp also doesn't realize that he's serving a life sentence because Heloise betrayed him. But he's clearly beginning to suspect that Heloise has been holding something back all these years.
With no formal education, no real family, and no friends, Heloise has to remake her life—again. Disappearing will be the easy part. She's done it before and she can do it again. A new name and a new place aren't hard to come by if you know the right people. The trick will be living long enough to start a new life.
The consequences of long-buried secrets involving misogyny, motherhood, and morality play out in this excellent stand-alone set in suburban Maryland from Edgar-winner Lippman (The Most Dangerous Thing). Introduced in the novella "Scratch a Woman," Heloise Lewis is a survivor who rose from the ashes of her past to run a profitable call-girl service, occasionally meeting special clients herself. To her neighbors, she's a young widow and a devoted mother who never misses her son Scott's ball games at his middle school. To the IRS, she's a lobbyist with several women on her payroll and a medical plan. But Heloise's carefully constructed life is falling apart because Val Deluca, her son's father, who also was her former pimp, may be released from prison. Val doesn't know he's Scott's father or that Heloise's betrayal put him behind bars for murder. Shifting smoothly from Heloise's past to her present, Lippman delivers an intense character study about a strong, complex woman whose love for her son compels her to make some desperate choices.
I enjoyed this book a great deal. It is the first Laura Lippman book I have read but it certainly won't be the last.
And When She Was Good.
Excellent read. Loved the entire novel. It was interesting from beginning to end and actually hated to see it end. What a
great character and plot. Will recommend this book to anyone who wants a great read.
Couldn't put it down!
I admit I bought this book on sale without reading the description very closely. I was bummed when I realized it centered around prostitution - I assumed this meant there would be a lot of graphic sex scenes which I just don't like reading - but the author told the story without any of that. I couldn't put this one down! Great character development and I loved that it alternated between past and present.