Monday, August 13, 2012

Pierce’s Picks: “And When She Was Good”

A weekly alert for followers of crime, mystery, and thriller fiction.

And When She Was Good, by Laura Lippman (Morrow):
Edgar Award winner Lippman continues to stretch herself with this high-stakes yarn featuring Heloise Lewis, a seemingly upstanding young suburbanite who actually operates a profitable call-girl service. Following a traumatic childhood, red-headed Heloise (introduced in “Scratch a Woman,” from Lippman’s 2008 short-story collection, Hardly Knew Her) has carved out a steady, if secrets-filled existence for herself in Maryland, with a son, Scott, in middle-school and what the Internal Revenue Service has been led to believe is a successful lobbying practice with several female employees. All of that hard-won order and compartmentalization is threatened, however, after another “suburban madam” is found dead (a possible suicide) and Heloise receives word that Scott’s father, Val Deluca--who also happens to be her former pimp, and doesn’t know that he has a child or that Heloise helped send him to prison for murder--may soon be free again. Even the other men she’s come to depend on most might not be able to protect Heloise Lewis from the consequences of choices she made long ago. Partly an arm’s-length dip into the world of sex workers but mostly an intense character study, And When She Was Good succeeds on both levels.

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Also new in bookstores this week--at least in Britain--is Watching the Dark, by Peter Robinson (Hodder & Stoughton). This 20th installment in his Alan Banks series finds the detective chief inspector probing the crossbow death of a police colleague, who apparently left behind a number of rather compromising photographs. The DCI won’t pronounce a fellow cop guilty without ample convincing evidence, but he’s having a hard time collecting any, what with a fellow inspector dogging his every step to ensure against corruption. How might all of this present-day mess relate to an English girl who disappeared in the Baltics half a dozen years ago? (Watching the Dark isn’t scheduled to debut in the States until January 2013.)

Be on the lookout as well for Shake Off, by Mischa Hiller (Mulholland), a thriller focused around Michel Khoury, a Palestinian-born intelligence operative who’s committed to bringing a peaceful end to the Middle East conflict that caused the tragic loss of his own family. As the habitually careful Khoury develops a relationship with his young London housemate, the intriguing Helen, he unwittingly places her in a state of jeopardy that will soon cause them both to flee to Germany and Scotland for the sake not only of their love, but their lives.

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