Thank you so much Faber & Faber for my free copy.
Cleo Sherwood disappeared eight months ago. Aside from her parents and the two sons she left behind, no one seems to have noticed. It isn’t hard to understand why: it’s 1964 and neither the police, the public, nor the papers care much when Negro women go missing.
Maddie Schwartz – recently separated from her husband, working her first job as an assistant at the Baltimore Sun – wants one thing: a byline. When she hears about an unidentified body that’s been pulled out of the fountain in Druid Hill Park, Maddie thinks she is about to uncover a story that will finally get her name in print. What she can’t imagine is how much trouble she will cause by chasing a story that no-one wants her to tell.
I am a longtime fan of Lippman so I jumped at the chance to review this book! It’s historical fiction based on true events wrapped up in a mystery, so color me intrigued!
In 1960s Baltimore, we meet 37-year-old Madeline Schwartz or “Maddie” who was once a dutiful housewife and mother, but leaves one day to pursue a career in journalism. Maddie starts at the low end as an assistant at the Baltimore Star but is determined to get her own column. She is specifically interested in the case of Cleo Sherwood, a young black woman who was found murdered in a nearby lake, otherwise known as THE LADY IN THE LAKE. No one around her is interested in pursuing this case any further but Maddie won’t let go of it.
Maddie is our main narrator but we also read several chapters from Cleo’s perspective. One of the things I thought was most interesting is how the story is laid out. Maddie has no qualms about pursuing her dream, where she should live, who her lover is, or inserting herself into the investigation during a time when it wasn’t the norm – I quite admire that. But we not only see through Maddie’s eyes and Cleo’s ghost from beyond the grave, we are also introduced to several minor characters who give us tremendous insight into time and place of the story. We see 1960s Baltimore vividly through many facets such as class, race, and sexism. And didn’t I mention that this book is based on real events? That’s only the first reason why you should read this book. Lippman wrote an excellent historical mystery with the backdrop of the newsroom with a very strong ending.
I rate this 4 out of 5 stars!
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