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Lady in the Lake: A Novel

Lady in the Lake: A Novel

Written by Laura Lippman

Narrated by Susan Bennett


Lady in the Lake: A Novel

Written by Laura Lippman

Narrated by Susan Bennett

ratings:
4/5 (84 ratings)
Length:
10 hours
Publisher:
Released:
Jul 23, 2019
ISBN:
9780062390134
Format:
Audiobook

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Also available as bookBook

Also available as...

Also available as bookBook

Description

The revered New York Times best-selling author returns with a novel set in 1960s Baltimore that combines modern psychological insights with elements of classic noir, about a middle-aged housewife turned aspiring reporter who pursues the murder of a forgotten young woman.

In 1966, Baltimore is a city of secrets that everyone seems to know — everyone, that is, except Madeline “Maddie” Schwartz. Last year, she was a happy, even pampered housewife. This year, she’s bolted from her marriage of almost 20 years, determined to make good on her youthful ambitions to live a passionate, meaningful life.

Maddie wants to matter, to leave her mark on a swiftly changing world. Drawing on her own secrets, she helps Baltimore police find a murdered girl — assistance that leads to a job at the city’s afternoon newspaper, the Star. Working at the newspaper offers Maddie the opportunity to make her name, and she has found just the story to do it: a missing woman whose body was discovered in the fountain of a city park lake.

Cleo Sherwood was a young African-American woman who liked to have a good time. No one seems to know or care why she was killed except Maddie — and the dead woman herself. Maddie’s going to find the truth about Cleo’s life and death. Cleo’s ghost, privy to Maddie’s poking and prying, wants to be left alone.

Maddie’s investigation brings her into contact with people who used to be on the periphery of her life — a jewelry store clerk, a waitress, a rising star on the Baltimore Orioles, a patrol cop, a hardened female reporter, a lonely man in a movie theater. But for all her ambition and drive, Maddie often fails to see the people right in front of her. Her inability to look beyond her own needs will lead to tragedy and turmoil for all sorts of people — including the man who shares her bed, a black police officer who cares for Maddie more than she knows.

Publisher:
Released:
Jul 23, 2019
ISBN:
9780062390134
Format:
Audiobook

Also available as...

Also available as bookBook


About the author

Since Laura Lippman's debut in 1997, she has been recognized as a distinctive voice in mystery fiction and named one of the "essential" crime writers of the last 100 years. Her books have won most of the major awards in her field and been translated into more than twenty languages. She lives in Baltimore and New Orleans with her daughter.

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Reviews

What people think about Lady in the Lake

3.8
84 ratings / 29 Reviews
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Reader reviews

  • (4/5)
    When her husband invites home for dinner a man she knew in high school, 37 year old Maddie is jolted out of her comfortable world of being a Jewish housewife and mother to a teenage son. It's 1966, Baltimore is changing and Maddie wants to be out in the world, living. She moves out, gets an apartment and a secret lover and decides that she wants to become a journalist. But she's too old and the wrong gender to get a job at a newspaper the traditional way, so when the disappearance of a little girl gives her an opportunity, she grabs it. But when her dream job turns into her being a glorified secretary, she finds another missing persons case to dig into, a woman whose body is found dumped in a public fountain. But Maddie is an outsider just learning her job there are people who have a vested interest in keeping her quiet.Maddie is a fantastic character. She's by turns yearning and manipulative, honest and willing to do what it takes to get what she wants, independent and insecure. I'm not sure I'd like her if I met her, but she is a fascinating person to follow around. Laura Lippman is that rare kind of bestseller writer, the kind that is constantly improving their work. She's always been good at putting together a suspenseful plot and paired that with solid writing, but she's been expanding her reach. Yes, this is set in Baltimore, as most of Lippman's books are, but this one deals with both Civil Rights issues and political corruption. There's a lot more depth here than usual and Lippman is up for it, writing a crime novel that works well in its genre, while also providing a novel rich in historical detail and nuanced characters.
  • (3/5)
    I have read a couple other books by Laura Lippman that I enjoyed, so I was looking forward to reading this book too. I have to say that this was my least favorite of hers that I've read. This was a crime novel, but it seemed more like historical fiction, so expectations may have had something to do with it. I did enjoy hearing the perspective of all the different characters. Thank you to Netgalley and Faber & Faber for allowing me to read this early in exchange for an honest review.
  • (3/5)
    I have read a few books from this author. I did like this book. Although, I felt like it story moved at a slow pace. Yet, I did like Maddie and her determination and grit. She helped to make keep this story interesting for me. However, it was Cleo and her voice that really hooked me. The way Laura brought her to "life" with allowing Cleo to be part narrator really was great. It allowed me to become close to Cleo. Thus, my resolve was strong for Maddie to solve Cleo's case. These two women were the story. The other characters were more secondary characters. I did not connect with them as much. With the combination of the lack of emotional connection with the other characters and the slow pacing, it did make it a little hard to keep my focus at times. Overall, though, I did enjoy this book.
  • (5/5)
    I’m not going to do a detailed recap of the story or an in-depth analysis and look for all the hidden meanings and symbolism; many better writers and reviewers than I am have done that, but I do want to tell you how much I enjoyed listening to Lady in the Lake and why.The time is the mid-1960’s. Maddie Schwartz decides to leave her marriage of almost twenty years, move into an apartment, begin an affair with an African-American police officer, and pursue her long-time dream of becoming a newspaper reporter. Maddie is a very capable woman, but she’s also self-centered, short-sighted, a snob, and a product of her time. Racism, classism, and sexism are the norm, and Maddie isn’t exempt from using any of them when it suits her purpose. The two main news stories are the murder of an 11-year old white girl, Tessie Fine, which gets a lot of press and police attention, and the murder of a twenty-something African American woman, Cleo Sherwood, which does not. Maddie makes investigating Cleo’s death her mission. How she goes about it and the effect her investigation has on people is the meat of the story. And a fascinating story it is.The point of view scrolls through many characters who make vivid one-time appearances: a jewelry store clerk, an about-to-be-murdered schoolgirl, "Mr. Helpline," a bartender, a political operative, a waitress, a Baltimore Oriole, the first African-American female policewoman, and many more. I read in another review that this hand-off method of switching to another character, someone Maddie has just interacted with, is the literary equivalent of a TV binge watching structure. That’s very accurate. And it’s especially effective in the audiobook version of the story I listened to. Narrator Susan Bennett is (as always) phenomenal, switching from voice to voice with ease and bring all these minor characters, as well as Maddie, to life.Maddie pays very little attention to these minor characters once they have served their purpose and provided whatever information she wanted. She doesn’t look any deeper than necessary for her immediate needs and is remarkably incurious about anything not directly affecting her. Nor does she seem to be aware of, or care about, the effect her charging around and stirring things up has on the lives of others.Lady in the Lake is a solid mystery about two murders, a lfascinating ook at the times and one woman in particular surviving and getting ahead in them, and an enjoyable look into the life stories of several minor characters. Listening to the story was a special treat. Reader Susan Bennett is a favorite of mine and always makes a good story into a great one. Thanks to Harper Audio. This review is solely my opinion. I thoroughly enjoyed Lady in the Lake and recommend it.
  • (5/5)
    Baltimore is in the news this week, and if you want to get a real taste of what that city is like, turn to the novels of mystery writer Laura Lippman. Along with her Tess Monaghan Baltimore PI series, Lippman's stand alone novels are set in and near Baltimore, including her latest, Lady in the Lake.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.
  • (5/5)
    Just one evening with an old school friend and Maddie’s life is not what it was anymore. Her life with her husband Milton and their son Seth simply isn’t what she wants anymore and so she makes a courageous decision for the year 1966: she leaves. Now completely on her own, she wants to make real another dream: becoming a journalist and when she, by pure chance, comes across the body of a young girl and soon after again of a woman, she seizes the opportunity of her first contact with the press. It is especially the second case of the “Lady in the Lake” as she was named that turns in her mind. Nobody seems to be really care about who murdered Cleo Sherwood, just because Cleo was black. Maddie knows that there must be a story behind it and that this can be her chance to really become a reporter.Laura Lippman’s novel is one of the most talked about books of 2019 and it only takes a couple of pages to understand why all this praise is more than justified. “Lady in the Lake” is the perfect combination of a crime novel and the story of a woman who follows her will and is brave enough to do this against all societal conventions. The setting is all but favourable for such an undertaking and Lippman’s lively portrait of Baltimore of the 1960s underlines with which severe consequences such an attitude came in these days. The most outstanding aspect of the novel is surely the protagonist. Maddie Schwartz is the perfect Jewish housewife – until she isn’t anymore. She remembers the young woman she once was, surely a bit stubborn, but to put it positively: she knew what she wanted and she got it. So why should she be pleased with the second best life? She definitely is a bit naive, but her sympathetic authenticity is the key to the people and this makes her story convincing and plausible. Times were harsh, above all for black people and the novel gives a good impression of what this meant in everyday life. It is not an open accusation of segregation and the different kind of treatment of people of colour or even a political statement, but simply a fact and thus an integral part of what the characters experience. I also liked the constant change of perspective and how Lippman integrated different points of view which also gives a good idea of someone like Maddie was perceived in her time. This also make the narrative lively and varied. I had some high expectations due to the masses of admiring reviews I had read, but nevertheless, the novel surpassed them easily.
  • (5/5)
    This marvelous and unlikely mashup brings together Herman Wouk's beloved 1955 novel Marjorie Morningstar and two true crime stories. Lippman, a thriller writer of serials featuring a Baltimore PI as well as standalones, here brings us to divided black and white Baltimore in the mid 1960s, and to a Jewish wife who busts loose from her marriage and into the newsroom at the city's afternoon newspaper. Through her own smarts and with the help of her source, a lover who's trying to break the color barrier in the Baltimore police detective bureau, Maddie Schwartz works on two murder cases using her classic good looks (a la Wouk's character) and her smarts and instincts. The most affecting case is that of the title character, Cleo Sherwood, a black woman trying to use her own beauty as a stepping stone to a better-than-just-getting-by life for her two sons when her body is found at the bottom of a city fountain. The two women's inner thoughts duel for the attention of the reader, and it's a fair fight. This should become a classic of the thriller genre.Quote: "She didn't have the luxury of looking too closely at good fortune."
  • (4/5)
    Laura Lippman takes us back to the Sixties in her new stand alone novel Lady in the Lake. Its also set in the city she knows so well - Baltimore.The prologue had me hooked - its the voice of a dead woman, cursing the woman who wouldn't let her lie in peace. Curiosity and more curiouser....Maddie is the perfect housewife, but she's growing bored with her life, wondering if this is all there is and seeing nothing but the same for years to come. So - she leaves her husband, gets an apartment and a lover and an unexpected job at a local newspaper. Determined to make her mark as a reporter, she latches on the story of a young woman found murdered.Now, here's the neat thing about this book. While Maddie is the driving force, almost every person she comes into contact with is given the next chapter in the book. The reader gets an in depth look at many characters and their connection to both Maddie and the dead woman. (Cleo) This format provided a very different reading experience. It had the feel of a serialized news story. With so many points of view, I felt like I knew something about each player, but didn't really know them - and I wanted to know more about many of them. (This speaks volumes about Lippman's characterizations!) Maddie is the exception as her voice and chapters are updated as the book progresses. I felt one way about Maddie in the beginning and quite liked her. But as the book progresses, she grows harder, becoming quite conniving when it comes to getting a story and I found I was becoming disillusioned with her. But - you don't have to like a protagonist.Lippman always brings the city of Baltimore to life for the reader. The racial tensions, mores of the time, gender and class divides, the newspaper industry (always well done as Lippman herself was a reporter) and more are woven into the story.The ending provides a great twist - I like being surprised with unexpected turns. And it was only on finishing the book that I discovered that Lady in the Lake takes inspiration from an actual murder.Lippman is an excellent wordsmith. I quite enjoyed this character driven, different style of narrative.
  • (3/5)
    A reasonably good mystery with enough twists to keep me reading. For the kind of book this is, the writing is impressive. I enjoyed it, but it wasn’t one of the better books I’ve read recently.
  • (3/5)
    "Lady in the Lake" by Laura Lippman is an uncommon book. It's set in a Baltimore known intimately by the author, who grew up there. It's also a close portrait of work in a newspaper office in a bygone era.Ms Lippman's book is receiving acclaim from every side and there isn't much new I can write about it. I found the pace a bit slow, and I am not fond of multiple POV, especially first person contributions from a dead person, so I wasn't thrilled. I'm sure most people will like it a lot though.I received a review copy of "Lady in the Lake" by Laura Lippman from Faber and Faber Ltd through NetGalley.com.
  • (3/5)
    Usually I love Lippman, but this was not my favorite.
  • (3/5)
    The story was told in an interesting way. Nice twist.
  • (3/5)
    I had stopped reading Laura Lippman, so I enjoyed the foray into Lady in the Lake. This novel reminded me of the writing style of James Patterson with the short chapters that propel the reader to start the next chapter and before you stop reading, you have completed half of the novel. The story also hints at William Faulkner and his stream of consciousness writing in The Sound and the Fury. The setting displays Baltimore in the 1960’s---1966 to be exact. Two young women are murdered: one a Jewish girl and the other a black woman, and Lippman shows the difference in the handling of each death by the Baltimore police department and the local newspapers. I totally enjoyed how Lippman exposes the feelings of different characters, such as the young sons of Cleo. I felt that the handling of Maddie to be a little unbelieving such as her divorce, dating adventures, and job experiences.
  • (4/5)
    An excellent novel of 1960s Baltimore and the newsworld, centered on a Jewish wife who wants her life to be more, and the black woman who became known as the lady in the lake. Lippman keeps the suspense up. But it is her characters, their wishes and regrets, and the depiction of their worlds that makes this a fantastic story.
  • (5/5)
    Laura Lippman does not disappoint this was a great book!
  • (4/5)
    There's so much going on in this book. It's a mystery, but it's also about a woman having a mid-life crisis (back in the days before we had a name for it) and trying to forge a new life for herself. It's told from multiple points of view, and with flashbacks. As the central character, Maddie, works toward her goal of becoming a reporter (with no journalistic training), the multiple points of view show the things she's caught in her investigative efforts - as well as the things she's missed. For me there was also a nostalgia factor - set in 1966, I could relate to much of it as my mother was right around Maddie's age at that time, and I was about the age of Maddie's son. But it's not a sanitized version of the time, sexism and racism are both well-represented, as are the roots of changing attitudes. Overall I enjoyed this one - it isn't exactly a happy book, but it was well worth the read, both for the writing and for the story. (And as a sort of homage to Marjorie Morningstar, which I've read a couple of times but long ago - it's moved my planned re-read up my TBR list.)
  • (3/5)
    Soooo, hmmm. The writing is excellent, obviously. But I just didn’t like the protagonist-
    Not because of the choices she made. I celebrated her seeking freedom and seeking a voice of her own. But we never see any growth in her. We never see her move past the past,
    Or do anything other than poke at other people’s lives as a way of dealing with her own mistakes.
    She never expressed any emotion other than desire and maybe some guilt and even that was blasé. I just couldn’t find a reason to care about her. The character I found more interesting was Cleo, and her resolution was a tad unclear. So, not my favorite.
  • (4/5)
    I liked this book. It was an easy listen, and had some good twists in it.
  • (5/5)
    This is terrific, timely, and compelling fiction and one of the best-narrated audiobooks I've ever heard. I was hooked right away and finished this in record-time, because I didn't want to put it down.
  • (5/5)
    Loved the story and loved the reader. The characters were so believable and intriguing. Sad it was done.
  • (3/5)
    This book got good reviews but didn't click with me (and I'm usually a Laura Lippman fan). I just didn't care about the main characters. The multiple voices didn't help.
  • (4/5)
    In 1966, Baltimore is a city of secrets that everyone seems to know--everyone, that is, except Madeline "Maddie" Schwartz. Last year, she was a happy, even pampered housewife. This year, she's bolted from her marriage of almost twenty years, determined to make good on her youthful ambitions to live a passionate, meaningful life.Maddie wants to matter, to leave her mark on a swiftly changing world. Drawing on her own secrets, she helps Baltimore police find a murdered girl--assistance that leads to a job at the city's afternoon newspaper, the Star. Working at the newspaper offers Maddie the opportunity to make her name, and she has found just the story to do it: a missing woman whose body was discovered in the fountain of a city park lake.Cleo Sherwood was a young African-American woman who liked to have a good time. No one seems to know or care why she was killed except Maddie--and the dead woman herself. Maddie's going to find the truth about Cleo's life and death. Cleo's ghost, privy to Maddie's poking and prying, wants to be left alone.Maddie's investigation brings her into contact with people that used to be on the periphery of her life--a jewelery store clerk, a waitress, a rising star on the Baltimore Orioles, a patrol cop, a hardened female reporter, a lonely man in a movie theater. But for all her ambition and drive, Maddie often fails to see the people right in front of her. Her inability to look beyond her own needs will lead to tragedy and turmoil for all sorts of people--including the man who shares her bed, a black police officer who cares for Maddie more than she knows.
  • (5/5)
    An exceptional work of literary prose and historical fiction.
  • (4/5)
    1960's Baltimore era noir about the murder of two females and the newspaper reporter who was determined to find their killers.
  • (4/5)
    I have loved all of Lippman's books that I have read, and this one is no exception.
  • (4/5)
    I've been wanting to read a book by this author for awhile now and the synopsis for this one sounded good. so I finally took the plunge. While this book can be classified as historical fiction, it also fits in the mystery and women's fiction genres. I ended up really enjoying this novel and look forward to reading other books by Laura Lippman.It's 1966 and Madeline "Maddie" Schwartz. lives in Baltimore with her husband and teenage son. It might seem like she has it all but she wants more than just playing the role of dutiful housewife. In search of living a more meaningful life, she leaves her husband and eventually finds work at a local newspaper. She is on the low end of the totem pole there but she thinks the right story will get her some attention. Maddie is particularly interested in finding out what exactly happened to Cleo Sherwood, a young African American woman who was found dead in the fountain of a city park lake. However her eagerness to find out the truth could come at an awful price for some. I was surprised at how many different things the story was able to touch on such as race, religion, women in the workforce, the newspaper industry, and politics to name a few. For me what really drove the story was the mystery of Cleo Sherwood more so than the Maddie "finding herself" storyline. While Maddie's perspective was predominately featured, other characters, including Cleo gave their spin on events throughout the book. For the most part I liked this method of telling the story especially as it really demonstrated how Maddie's actions affected other people. However, a few characters really had nothing much to do with advancing the plot so even though the appearances were brief, they just felt unnecessary. This is the type of book in which there is a little bit of something for everyone and what each reader takes away from it might be different. Definitely recommend especially if the 1960s Baltimore setting peaks your interest like it did for me.Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for providing me with an advance digital copy in exchange for an honest review!
  • (3/5)
    Surprisingly to me, I liked Mattie. Story was okay. Liked the unusual way of interspersing a chapter about a peripheral character.
  • (5/5)
    Great book . Many unexpected characters which aren’t obvious . Interesting read
  • (2/5)
    Too slow for me :(. Tried so hard to get into this book