I feel like this book proves how diverse the crime/mystery genre can be in terms of style and theme, and it proves that by not really being something I loved. I love mysteries, unsolved crimes being solved, themes of racial and gender equality, historical fiction mysteries, books about writers and journalists, and stories about women breaking free of their expected gender roles. And yet, I didn’t love this, even though it features all of those things.
I like my crime and mystery books either to focus on the impact of the death itself or the character and circumstances of the victim, or to go deep into the psychology of the investigator and/or killer, whereas this book wanted to be more about, I don’t even know, how clueless one can be about oppression even while being oppressed? The main character was the least interesting person in this book, is what I’m trying to say. She was pushy in weird ways and sort of ineffective, and ultimately, uninteresting, even as she was caught up in things that were extremely interesting.
The best parts of this book are Cleo’s POV chapters, even though she is dead, and the one-off POV chapters of random characters that pop in every once in a while after we meet them and they interact with our main character. The mystery itself was quite good, and the book was so literary that END SPOILERS I didn’t expect there to be twists, but there were a couple END SPOILERS. My main issue, I think, is that I just didn’t care about the main character (whose name I have forgotten). And as much as I liked Cleo’s POV and those others, they also furthered this problem, because almost none of them are sympathetic to the MC. It’s almost like Lippman purposefully wrote a main character in this style so you could sympathize with her and criticize her at the same time. It was strange.
So, I liked this, but I don’t know if I will be reading any more of Lippman’s books. I might try Dream Girl, because it sounds interesting, but I thought I would like this one more than I did, and it’s left me a little meh on her as an author.