Title: And When She Was Good: A Novel by Laura Lippman
Hardcover; August 14, 2012; William Morrow
Genre: mystery, suspense
Book source: publisher/TLC Book Tours
About the book: Helen drops out of school as a teenager and leaves home to avoid an abusive father, eventually becoming a well-to-do madam and changing her name to Heloise. She feels she must keep her young son innocent of his jailed father's existence and the real nature of her work. When people from her past threaten her and her son's future, Helen does what she has to do to save them both.
Comments: I thought about the title of the book, "And When She Was Good," and about the first verse of Longfellow's poem and considered the author's possible intent:
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. (American poet, 1807-1882)
There was a little girl, who had a little curlOn the surface, Helen seems to be the victim of an abusive father and weak mother, the victim of a boyfriend, Billy, with whom she ran off, only to have to work on the streets to support his drug habit. She also becomes a victim of Val, who leads her into a life of prostitution.
Right in the middle of her forehead,
And when she was good, she was very, very good,
But when she was bad she was horrid. (from destinyland.org)
But is Helen so innocent and blameless really? She manages to get rid of her abusers and her competitors on the streets and in her business, without ever seeming to lift a finger to deliberately hurt anyone. Things just seem to happen and work in her favor, even after she becomes a madam and raises her young son Scott in the traditional way, hiding her real source of income and profession from him and others relating to Scott.
I thought this was a nuanced psychological study as well as a good mystery novel, very well written to reveal the subtleties of Helen/Heloise's personality in her fight for survival and respectability. I would definitely recommend it for general readers as well as thriller/mystery lovers.
Laura Lippman wrote seven books while working as a reporter at the Baltimore Sun. She now is a full time fiction writer, author of two New York Times bestsellers, What the Dead Know and Another Thing to Fall. She has won the Edgar, Quill, Anthony, Nero Wolfe, Agatha, Gumshoe, Barry, and Macavity awards.
Laura's Website / Facebook
For a list of other reviews and tour stops visit "And When She Was Good" blog tour at TLC Book Tours.