I swear that most of Lippman's stand alone novels are just not that great. This one was pretty bad from beginning to end. The premise sounded interesting, a recently separated woman (Maddie Schwartz) who forces herself into a new job at a newspaper starts investigating a murder. We also get the ghosts's point of view of Maddie's investigations. Then the book just drifts and drags through about a dozen points of view. The book was all over the place and I honestly don't know what I was supposed to feel or even care about in the end. Maddie was a pretty terrible character and so was the so called Lady in the Lake when you get to the end.
"Lady in the Lake" follows Madeline “Maddie” Schwartz. After leaving her husband and son she decides to start again in Baltimore. Maddie is focused on leaving something behind. As a woman she feels like the only marks that anyway cares about is her being a wife and mother. When Maddie becomes entangled in two murder investigations, she ends up being able to talk herself into a job at the Star (a leading newspaper I guess in Baltimore). Maddie finds herself puzzling out who killed a young girl as well as an older African America woman who is found in a city park lake. The story shifts between following Maddie and readers getting into the mind of the woman found in the city park lake, called "Lady in the Lake." The story shits and bobs along to everyone who had contact with the dead woman. We also have Maddie sorting out her marriage and her affair with a black police officer.
Maddie is selfish to the core. The story starts with her giving a dinner party and then her being angry that her husband invited someone she knew from high school who was in love with her. It ends with her going yes I will leave my husband. I never really got a sense of Maddie. She's "investigating" but not really. She's going around being nosy and using information she is given to pretty much harass a dead woman's family. I just felt turned off by the whole thing.
Besides getting the "Lady in the Lake's" point of view, no one else is really developed. We get a point of view of a young woman that meets Maddie when she wants to sell her jewelry, we get the point of view of the dead woman's coworker, of a married woman, etc. It just started to drive me batty after a while.
The writing was so-so. I think starting each chapter with the heading of the description of the person instead of their freaking name was when I started to tap out of the book. The dialogue was not that great and Maddie's insights made me roll my eyes.
The flow was bad, leaping back and forth between people and then also trying to keep straight the month that the book was taking place in was just too much to focus on.
The book takes place in Baltimore in 1966, but honestly the book felt weird to me. Maddie is involved with Ferd, and the relationship is discussed, but in an abstract way. People kept talking to Maddie about the Democrats and getting people elected but it started to feel weird after a while. Like Lippman did not want to portray Maddie as racist. Newsflash, sleeping with a person of color is not a racism out of jail free card.
The ending was laughable bad. I don't even know what to say except that.