A Most Dangerous Scoop in Laura Lippman’s ‘Lady in the Lake’

From The Wall Street Journal:

Baltimore in the mid-1960s is the setting of Lady in the Lake, the latest novel from the ever impressive Laura Lippman. The times they are a-changin’, and 36-year-old Madeline Schwartz wants to change with them. A social encounter with an old schoolmate turned local TV news host makes Maddie aware of how unfulfilled she feels as a housewife and mother—and so she abruptly flees her marriage.

“I don’t think I’m the person I was meant to be,” she tries to explain to her teenage son once she has moved out of the family home and into her own apartment. “I want to do something with my life.” While she works to obtain a divorce, Maddie decides to help look for Tessie Fine, a missing little girl whom the whole city has been searching for. Sure enough, it’s Maddie who finds Tessie’s body near a wooded area. When a suspect is arrested for murder, Maddie writes to the accused man, and the prisoner responds with two letters containing incriminating information that Maddie parlays into an entry-level newspaper job. Another chance event has her playing a part in the discovery of a young black woman’s disintegrating corpse in a fountain; the victim is identified as Cleo Sherwood, dubbed “the lady in the lake” by the press.

. . . .

“Lady in the Lake” is a newspaper novel as well as a neo-noir thriller. Ms. Lippman, a reporter for 20 years before she turned to fiction full-time, writes with authority about the varied types found at a daily newspaper in decades past. She also evokes the condescension and obstruction Maddie encounters in pursuing her chosen calling, as when a senior writer chides: “That’s not how it works, Lois Lane.” As Maddie reflects: “The world kept telling her to look away, to pay no attention to an age-old system, in which men thrived and inconvenient women disappeared.”

Link to the rest at The Wall Street Journal (Sorry if you encounter a paywall)

3 thoughts on “A Most Dangerous Scoop in Laura Lippman’s ‘Lady in the Lake’”

  1. And the probability that anyone would be at all sympathetic if the protagonist were male is…zero.

    Which is as it should be, but this double standard is quite irksome.

  2. So many elements in the story are common:
    – 60’s setting
    – disgruntled housewife looking for a different life
    – Crusading rookie reporter
    Straight from the mix-n-match tropes box. The same but different. Easy to see why HC is putting money behind it since it also sounds like yet another made for hollywood story; featuring the aging star of the month, deglammed for Oscar cred.

    The writing had better be really good.
    I’ll wait for tbe movie.

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