Faber & Faber | July 2019 | 352 pgs
Set in Baltimore during the 1960s, this novel centers around two mystery cases and a woman's ambition amid the various difficulties and challenges faced during that time.
Thirty-ish Madeline "Maddie" Schwartz is supposed to be a happy housewife. Although her marriage to Milton is far from being perfect, at least their marriage is leaning towards the twentieth year. Despite this, she feels a little restless and bored with her life. She decided to leave her marriage (not divorced) and pursue her dreams working in a newspapers firm. Maddie may have no skills and experience for that matter, but she knows how to make use of opportunities and she got a job (even if it's an assistant position) after helping the police find the body of a murdered girl.
However, Maddie does have some little insider's tip from Ferdie Platt, a black policeman and she pursues the source until the perpetrator is finally put on trial. Maddie has a secret affair with Ferdie and although she is comfortable with him, she knew they couldn't declare their relationship openly considering their race and all the consequences they've to face should words get out.
Maddie continues to work her way up and she decided that she needs a bigger story to leave her mark on the male dominated industry. She already has her eyes set on Cleo Sherwood, a young black woman who died in a lake years ago and she intends to find out the cause and the perpetrator even though news of her disappearance and death received minimal coverage. But Maddie's drive come off too strong and often she fails to look beyond her own needs and what she unravels will do more harm and hurt to the people surrounding her, including the victim's family.
The story begins with a bang with Cleo's thoughts after she was dead. Further reading reveals a few issues such as racial tension, gender inequality, religion and class differences which make an interesting aspects to the story but alas, my attention started to wane halfway through the book. There are too many narratives, including a few random people Maddie met during the course of her investigations and although it was interesting to hear what they thought, I felt they didn't really contribute much impact to the story and seemed more like fillers to me. Maddie was an interesting character; and her ambition and drive were admirable but for some reason I couldn't find myself connecting with her. Although this is not my favourite Laura Lippman book, I did enjoy reading the twisty ending, the historical aspect and the portrayal of Baltimore set in the '60s.
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