Second to latest Laura Lippman novel, and I am starting to think that as much as a like about the Tess Monaghan novels, she’s really better outside of them. This might simply be a case of having read her first five novels versus reading her most recent three though.
This novel begins with a man entering a bar in smalltown Delaware and noticing a mid-30s sunburned lady and sidling up to her. From there Laura Lippman slowly unravels this central image telling us that this woman has just run away from her husband and young daughter in the middle of their early summer, cheap vacation, that she’s going to hole up in this small town for while, that the man who spots her is a private investigator, and that there’s still a lot more to tell about this story. The information in this novel is very very very slowly and carefully drizzled out. At the beginning, it feels like there’s a very important time element factoring into the story, and it also seems like there’s an impending sense of doom factoring in, and it turns out that both are true and also not exactly true as we learn more and more.
The novel is itself is clearly a shuffled version of both The Postman Always Rings Twice and Double Indemnity, both of which get referenced and discussed. But the biggest difference is a remixing of the tone and causation in those novels. We still have a femme fatale, but we are actually allowed to understand that a femme fatale is made, not born.