This is the newest Laura Lippmann novel, and only the second novel of hers that I’ve read outside of the Tess Monaghan series, even though she puts a little Easter Egg in this one for fans. It takes places in the mid-1960s and involves the murder of a young Jewish girl from the Northwest corner of Baltimore/the suburb Pikesville and the murder of a Black woman in the city center (Druid Hill). These two murders are linked narratively, if not so much criminally.
The novel though is primarily told in three distinct ways: a third person narrator following Maddie Schwartz, a housewife turned divorcee turned crime reporter, a series of first person narrative voices who interact with Maddie and others throughout the novel, and an ethereal first person narration from the eponymous “Lady in the Lake” observing both the past and the present. She becomes a kind of Greek chorus providing a moral voice, and importantly the voice of a Black woman, who has the truth cold.
The novel is more or less a mystery, but more than anything it’s an unfolding of a series of lives. Maddie is the main protagonist in this novel, and it’s mostly about her changes from kept woman to intrepid reporter. A little too charming, but earnest and ambitious, she works her cases and her stories with vigor, if not always good decision making. The novel acts in many ways as a prequel (by a few decades to The Wire or the Tess Monaghan series) and I think there’s either a good couple of sequels or follow up novels (the 70s, 80s, and 90s) or if this were the end, so be it.