Books are food for my soul! Pull up a beach chair and stick your toes in the sand as the Jersey surf rolls in and out, now open your book and let your imagination take you away.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

And When She Was Good by Laura Lippman (Book Review)

In association with Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours, Jersey Girl Book Reviews welcomes Laura Lippman, author of And When She Was Good!

And When She Was Good by Laura Lippman
Published By: William Morrow (Harper Collins)
Publication Date: August 14, 2012
Format: Hardcover - 320 pages / Paperback / Kindle - 497 KB / 757 KB
ISBN: 0061706876
Genre: Mystery - Suspense - Thriller

About The Author:

Laura Lippman
has been awarded every major prize in crime fiction. Since the publication of What the Dead Know, each of her hardcovers has hit the New York Times bestseller list. A recent recipient of the first-ever Mayor’s Prize, she lives in Baltimore, Maryland, and New Orleans with her husband, David Simon, their daughter, and her stepson.

Laura Lippman's And When She Was Good Virtual Book Tours Page On Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours

Book Review

BUY THE BOOK: And When She Was Good

Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review and participation in a virtual book tour event hosted by Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours.

Book Description:

Perennial New York Times and nationally bestselling author and acclaimed multiple–prize winner Laura Lippman delivers a brilliant novel about a woman with a secret life who is forced to make desperate choices to save her son and herself.

When Hector Lewis told his daughter that she had a nothing face, it was just another bit of tossed-off cruelty from a man who specialized in harsh words and harsher deeds. But twenty years later, Heloise considers it a blessing to be a person who knows how to avoid attention. In the comfortable suburb where she lives, she's just a mom, the youngish widow with a forgettable job who somehow never misses a soccer game or a school play. In the state capitol, she's the redheaded lobbyist with a good cause and a mediocre track record.

But in discreet hotel rooms throughout the area, she's the woman of your dreams—if you can afford her hourly fee.

For more than a decade, Heloise has believed she is safe. She has created a rigidly compartmentalized life, maintaining no real friendships, trusting few confidantes. Only now her secret life, a life she was forced to build after the legitimate world turned its back on her, is under siege. Her once oblivious accountant is asking loaded questions. Her longtime protector is hinting at new, mysterious dangers. Her employees can't be trusted. One county over, another so-called suburban madam has been found dead in her car, a suicide. Or is it?

Nothing is as it seems as Heloise faces a midlife crisis with much higher stakes than most will ever know.

And then she learns that her son's father might be released from prison, which is problematic because he doesn't know he has a son. The killer and former pimp also doesn't realize that he's serving a life sentence because Heloise betrayed him. But he's clearly beginning to suspect that Heloise has been holding something back all these years.

With no formal education, no real family, and no friends, Heloise has to remake her life—again. Disappearing will be the easy part. She's done it before and she can do it again. A new name and a new place aren't hard to come by if you know the right people. The trick will be living long enough to start a new life.

Book Excerpt:

Monday, October 3


The headline catches Heloise’s eye as she waits in the always-long line at the Starbucks closest to her son’s middle school. Of course, a headline is supposed to call attention to itself. That’s its job. Yet these letters are unusually huge, hectoring even, in a typeface suitable for a declaration of war or an invasion by aliens. It’s tacky, tarted up, as much of a strumpet as the woman whose death it’s trumpeting.


Heloise finds it interesting that suicide must be fudged but the label of madam requires no similar restraint, only qualification. She supposes that every madam needs her modifier. Suburban Madam, D.C. Madam, Hollywood Madam, Mayflower Madam. “Madam” on its own would make no impression in a headline, and this is the headline of the day, repeated ad nauseam on every news break on WTOP and WBAL, even the local cut-ins on NPR. Suburban Madam dead in apparent suicide. People are speaking of it here in line at this very moment, if only because the suburb in question is the bordering county’s version of this suburb. Albeit a lesser one, the residents of Turner’s Grove agree. Schools not quite as good, green space less lush, too much lower-cost housing bringing in riffraff. You know, the people who can afford only three hundred thousand dollars for a town house. Such as the Sub­urban Madam, although from what Heloise has gleaned, she lived in the most middle of the middle houses, not so grand as to draw attention to herself but not on the fringes either.

And yes, Heloise knows that because she has followed almost every news story about the Suburban Madam since her initial arrest eight months ago. She knows her name, Michelle Smith, and what she looks like in her mug shot, the only photo of her that seems to exist. Very dark hair—so dark it must be dyed—very pale eyes, otherwise so ordinary as to be any woman anywhere, the kind of stranger who looks familiar because she looks like so many people you know. Maybe Heloise is a little bit of a hypo­crite, decrying the news coverage even as she eats it up, but then she’s not a disinterested party, unlike the people in this line, most of whom probably use “disinterested” incorrectly in conversation yet consider themselves quite bright.

My Book Review:

And When She Was Good follows the story of Helen/Heloise Lewis from her teenage years to her present age of thirty-seven. Born and raised in a verbally and physically abusive family, Helen escapes the torment of her father by running away at the age of sixteen with a boy named Billy, who she thought would take care of her. It turns out that Billy is a drug addict and deeply in debt, so he pressures Helen into getting a job dancing to pay for his drug habit. With no where else to turn and desperate to leave Billy, Helen begins working as a high-priced prostitute for pimp Val DeLuca, a brutal control freak of a man who she loves but also fears. When Val fathers Helen's son Scott, she takes measures to protect her unborn son by setting Val up to go to prison unbeknownst to him that she is carrying his child. With Val's help, Helen reinvents herself and she becomes Heloise, a suburban madam, who runs her call-girl business from the basement of her house. To protect herself from detection by her neighbors, Heloise portrays herself as a young widow, soccer mom and Washington lobbyist. While flying under the radar, her business is a success and some of her clients include some of Baltimore's most influential men. The stakes become higher when her carefully constructed world becomes threatened by questions raised by her accountant, the recent questionable death of another suburban madam, and Val's possible release from prison. Heloise has to make some quick hard decisions or she risks putting herself and her son's life in danger.

And When She Was Good is an intriguing story about a woman who will do whatever she has to do in order to protect her son. Masterfully written in the third person narrative, the author weaves an engrossing tale of Helen/Heloise Lewis' varied life that alternates between flashbacks from her past to the present time. This fast paced suspenseful thriller engages the reader in following along with Helen/Heloise on her journey of self-discovery to confront the choices she has made and the truth about the life she has led. This story has a lot of tumultuous twists and turns that will keep you guessing while sitting on the edge of your seat.

Author Laura Lippman has created a realistic and complex character in Helen/Heloise. Her edginess, emotions, actions, and survivor instinct explode off the page. You can't help but get caught up in the depth of this character and follow her story to the very surprising conclusion. The supporting characters are also very real and edgy, their contributions make this story an intriguing and compelling read.

And When She Was Good is a fascinating portrait study of a woman whose life story ranged from an abused child to a successful madam and protective mother, while focusing on the varied life choices that she made along the way.



  1. Fantastic review and post! Well done! Thank you.

    1. Hi Cheryl! Thank you for the opportunity to read, review and host this virtual book tour event. :)