Laura Lippman keeps growing as a writer. For a reader, this is a true delight, and each novel is something of a surprise. She’s hewing more, lately, to the standalone model than to the Tess Monaghan novels that started her career, and she has plenty to say. This novel is both a good story and a nuanced look at ethical behavior and choices.
Her central character is Heloise Lewis, who, it quickly becomes apparent, is a high class madam in the Heidi Fleiss mode. Making the novel a look at the politics of prostitution from the opening scene, Heloise overhears a conversation in line at the Starbucks about the recent suicide of a “suburban madam”. As she challenges the easy assumptions of the couple behind her in line, she’s really challenging her own assumptions. The articulation of her thoughts to a strange couple merely starts her own thought process.