And When She Was Good: A Novel

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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 ...

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And When She Was Good

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Overview

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.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
The consequences of long-buried secrets involving misogyny, motherhood, and morality play out in this excellent stand-alone set in suburban Maryland from Edgar-winner Lippman (The Most Dangerous Thing). Introduced in the novella “Scratch a Woman,” Heloise Lewis is a survivor who rose from the ashes of her past to run a profitable call-girl service, occasionally meeting special clients herself. To her neighbors, she’s a young widow and a devoted mother who never misses her son Scott’s ball games at his middle school. To the IRS, she’s a lobbyist with several women on her payroll and a medical plan. But Heloise’s carefully constructed life is falling apart because Val Deluca, her son’s father, who also was her former pimp, may be released from prison. Val doesn’t know he’s Scott’s father or that Heloise’s betrayal put him behind bars for murder. Shifting smoothly from Heloise’s past to her present, Lippman delivers an intense character study about a strong, complex woman whose love for her son compels her to make some desperate choices. Agent: Vicky Bijur, Vicky Bijur Literary. (Sept.)
New York Times
“AND WHEN SHE WAS GOOD is a steady, surprising tale… Ms. Lippman’s nominal subject may be prostitution, but her book is not about a woman who takes care of clients. It’s about a woman who can take care of herself.”
Library Journal
Heloise is a suburban single mother who runs her own business, keeping the needs of her employees and her young son balanced on a knife's edge. She's also a former prostitute whose "consulting" business is actually an escort service with a client roster that includes politicians, lawyers, and other powerful men in Baltimore, Annapolis, and Washington, DC. Heloise has kept her life carefully compartmentalized for years, but those lines start to waver and disappear, beginning with the apparent suicide of another local madam. The police officer who's acted as her protector leaves the department, the accountant who used to turn a blind eye starts asking uncomfortable questions, a pal from the old days tries to blackmail her, and a former employee threatens to sue over the HIV she contracted while in Heloise's employ. Worst of all, though, the most dangerous, violent man from her past may soon be released from prison and looking for revenge. VERDICT Lippman's (I'd Know You Anywhere) recent novels have skirted the line between mysteries and mainstream fiction, and this one is no different. While the author slowly ratchets up the tension until the final, blood-drenched showdown, this is really a story about a woman wresting control of her life from the men who done her wrong and then using her considerable resources to defend what she's built. It's a page-turner, but often an uncomfortable one, as enough of Heloise's backstory is included for readers to understand some of her more unsavory decisions. What may seem like a dropped plot point concerning her stepsister, Meghan, is actually a callback to a connected novella, "Scratch a Woman," which appears in the 2008 collection Hardly Knew Her, but the novel easily can be enjoyed on its own.—Stephanie Klose, Library Journal
Library Journal
Mega-award-winning author Lippman here offers a stand-alone novel with a compelling plot: Heloise, a suburban madam, is worried when a man she helped put on death row is released after his sentence is overturned. That the man is her former pimp and the father of her son makes things even worse. The novel is based on a short story, "Scratch a Woman," taken from Lippman's 2008 collection Hardly Knew Her and nominated for both an Edgar and an Anthony. Currently, it's a popular ebook. Note the 150,000-copy first printing and the official September 1 pub date; the book goes on sale August 14.
Kirkus Reviews
Lippman (The Most Dangerous Thing, 2011, etc.), who specializes in tales of feckless parents and their luckless kids, puts a madam at the center of her latest dysfunctional family. At first, nothing could be more conventional than the Lewis family saga. Helen's father, already married with two children to his credit, knocks up her mother, Beth, a 19-year-old carhop. He moves in with Beth but hangs around his ex-wife Barbara enough to give Helen a half sister, Meghan, only six months younger. As Beth and Barbara tussle over worthless Hector, he focuses on tormenting Helen, telling her that she has "a nothing face," breaking her record albums and forcing her to get a job that interferes with her schoolwork. It's while waitressing at Il Cielo that she meets Billy, the owner's stepson, who lures her to Baltimore with promises of marriage. Instead, he turns her out, making her earn money to feed his drug habit by doing lap dances at a local strip club. That's where she meets Val Deluca, whose red hair matches his fiery temper. Val offers Helen a nice house and a better class of client, all for doing what she's already doing. He also gives her the chance to be something she'd never dreamed of: a mother. That's when Helen's tale goes off the beaten path. Before he learns about Helen's delicate condition, Val is jailed for murder, and Helen reinvents herself as Heloise Lewis, running the business at a level Val had never achieved. She recruits college girls with delicately worded ads for escorts and serves clients who include state legislators, all while presenting herself as a lobbyist for the Women's Full Employment Network. But when another suburban madam turns up dead, Heloise realizes that the safe, comfortable life she's crafted for herself and her beloved son, Scott, in affluent Turner's Grove is at risk. Like Mary Cassatt, Lippman studies families with a different eye than her male contemporaries, showing the heartbreaking complexity of life with those you love.
The New York Times
And When She Was Good is a steady, surprising tale about how Heloise adapts when her business is put in jeopardy…There are easy, conventional ways for Ms. Lippman to escalate and end her story. But she cares less about mayhem than about ways for Heloise to adapt her talents to changing times. Call it sustainability: this book gives Heloise power, versatility and the gift of foresight, all of which serve her well in a crisis. Ms. Lippman's nominal subject may be prostitution, but her book is not about a woman who takes care of clients. It's about a woman who can take care of herself.
—Janet Maslin
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780061706875
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 8/14/2012
  • Pages: 320
  • Product dimensions: 6.40 (w) x 9.14 (h) x 1.06 (d)

Meet the Author

Laura Lippman

Since her debut in 1997, Laura Lippman has been heralded for her thoughtful, timely crime novels set in her beloved hometown of Baltimore. She is the author of twenty works of fiction, including eleven Tess Monaghan mysteries. She lives in Baltimore, New Orleans, and New York City with her family.

Biography

Laura Lippman was a reporter for 20 years, including 12 years at The (Baltimore) Sun. She began writing novels while working fulltime and published seven books about "accidental PI" Tess Monaghan before leaving daily journalism in 2001. Her work has been awarded the Edgar ®, the Anthony, the Agatha, the Shamus, the Nero Wolfe, Gumshoe, and Barry awards. She also has been nominated for other prizes in the crime fiction field, including the Hammett and the Macavity. She was the first-ever recipient of the Mayor's Prize for Literary Excellence and the first genre writer recognized as Author of the Year by the Maryland Library Association.

Ms. Lippman grew up in Baltimore and attended city schools through ninth grade. After graduating from Wilde Lake High School in Columbia, Md., Ms. Lippman attended Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism. Her other newspaper jobs included the Waco Tribune-Herald and the San Antonio Light.

Ms. Lippman returned to Baltimore in 1989 and has lived there since.

Biography from author's website.

Good To Know

In our interview, Lippman shared some fun and fascinating facts about herself:

"I can do an imitation of Ethel Merman singing ‘Satisfaction.'"

"I'm not a Baltimore native -- I arrived here about six years too late for that. But I love the fact that I've convinced the world that I am."

"Like my character, Tess Monaghan, I used to row. Unlike her, I was very, very bad at it."

"I've written eight books in my series -- one not yet published -- and a stand-alone crime novel, but my subject is always, on some level, Baltimore.

It's a problem-place, neither northern nor southern, somewhat addicted to nostalgia, yet amnesiac about the more dicey parts of its past. I used an epigraph from H. L. Mencken in one of my books: ‘A Baltimorean is not merely John Doe, an isolated individual of Homo sapiens, like every other John Doe. He is a John Doe of a certain place -- of Baltimore, of a definite home in Baltimore.' I am a person of a certain place, and that place happens to be Baltimore."

Read More Show Less
    1. Hometown:
      Baltimore, Maryland
    1. Date of Birth:
      January 31, 1959
    2. Place of Birth:
      Atlanta, Georgia
    1. Education:
      B.S., Medill School of Journalism, Northwestern University, 1981

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 37 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(13)

4 Star

(12)

3 Star

(7)

2 Star

(4)

1 Star

(1)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 37 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 3, 2012

    LOVED IT!

    I purchased this book after reading a review in a magazine. (Have never read anything from this author previously) I thought it sounded "good", not necessarily "great".... and I was wrong. I could not put it down, and stayed awake just to finish it the same day. Loved the characters and the plot!

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 25, 2012

    Why?

    Why do people need to review and spoil plot? Just say if its good or not! I dont want a recap

    3 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted August 17, 2012

    Bought this book based on a highly favorable NYT book review. Ha

    Bought this book based on a highly favorable NYT book review. Have not
    read Laura Lippman books before now. If I could give it a 3.5, that
    would probably be more accurate. It did hold my interest beginning to
    end and there were times I could not put it down. The inside world of
    prostitution, pimps, madams, call girl services, was all very insightful
    and interesting. The book held plenty of suspense and a few chills. I
    don't mind books that jump around in time, but in this one the jumping
    around was at times a bit confusing---though by reading back a little, I
    could figure out the time adjustment. Helen/Heloise is a good girl
    turned bad by the hard circumstances of her life. Men use and abuse her,
    but she's smart enough to start to figure out how to survive and take
    care of herself. But whenever she thinks she has fixed things, someone
    comes along to mess things up. A series of deaths of old prostitution
    colleagues puts everything she has gained at risk for her and her
    son---the one person she most wants to protect. And how does her old
    pimp (and unknowing father of her son) spending life in prison make all
    these things happen? It is his doing, right? It's a good mystery, but I
    liked best about this book the insights into that twisted world.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 15, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    This is the story of the life of a prostitute, but it is so much

    This is the story of the life of a prostitute, but it is so much more
    than that. Heloise is one of those suburban "madams" that you
    read about in the papers from time to time. Her life as been kept
    "compartmentalized", as she thinks of it, and most people only
    see one side of her life. Either they know her as the successful madam
    who runs her business...well, like a business... or they know her as a
    lobbyist widow raising a son on her own. And ne'er the twain shall meet.
    The one knows nothing of the other, with very few exceptions in her
    life. I liked the character Heloise later in life. I wasn't always the
    biggest fan of her in her younger years. But part of that may be because
    the character wasn't as fully developed in her younger years. It was
    more like brief flashbacks over the years, so there were always holes
    left in the story. After a turbulent childhood growing up poor in a
    small town with an abusive father and a bowed mother who has submitted
    to her life, the present-day portion of the story takes place when
    Heloise (formerly "Helen") is 37-years-old and living in
    suburbia. As an adult, Heloise gives every appearance of being a woman
    in total control of her life. I say "appearance", because even
    she must admit later that none of us truly have control. There are just
    too many things outside of our control. Heloise is trying to do things
    as "right" as she can, given that she works in an industry
    deemed "wrong". This isn't just the story of a prostitute--
    it is the story of a mother's love, and what a mother will do to protect
    her child. Growing with a mother who put her abusive husband (well, sort
    of husband) before her daughter, Heloise now puts her son a priority
    before everything else. Everything she does is for him. While Heloise
    circumvents oncoming middle-age and a son entering his teens, she
    reassesses her life and decides it is time to restructure and reinvent.
    But as she is breaking free from the ties that bind, danger and ghosts
    linger in the shadows. My final word: I enjoyed this book. It is my
    first Laura Lippman, and probably won't be my last. Engaging and just
    suspenseful enough to wonder where she's gonna go with a thread of the
    storyline, and containing so many elements of a story that I've had in
    my head for 20 years now, I found the story ultimately interesting, and
    Heloise a character that I could root for.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted August 7, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    I really enjoyed this book. THis is my first Lippman book to re

    I really enjoyed this book. THis is my first Lippman book to read and I really got into it.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 22, 2012

    Good fun book

    This is a a good fun book with lots to twist and turns....you really don't see what is coming until the end... Cadia

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 11, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    3.5/5 I'm a long time fan of author Laura Lippman and her Tess

    3.5/5

    I'm a long time fan of author Laura Lippman and her Tess Monaghan series. But Lippman has written a number of stand alone novels that I've really enjoyed as well. Every book is an adventure as you're never quite sure what to expect from this award winning author.

    When I read the opening chapters of And When She Was Good, I felt like I had already met the protagonist - Heloise. On further investigation I found I had. Lippman contributed a story to an anthology called Death Do Us Part in 2006 that featured Heloise - a high end prostitute.

    Heloise is now a madam - running her own service. She's a single mom to twelve year old Scott. To everyone in her suburban neighbourhood, she's a widow who works as a lobbyist for wage parity. But in her basement office, she runs a successful and elite escort service. And she's very, very careful to keep the parts of her life separated. But the past has a way of catching up.....

    Lippman has written a book that has mystery, crime and suspense elements to it. And they're good, but not edge of your seat stuff. (Who the bad guy is is fairly obvious) The basic premise of the book has been done before, but Lippman's exploration of prostitution does generate lots of food for thought.

    Instead, it was Heloise's story that was the big draw. We follow her life from a teen in a dysfunctional family, to a young woman falling in with the wrong man, to working for a really wrong man and to the birth of her son. And the desire to protect him at all costs. Heloise intrigued me - her instinct to survive, her strength and her drive were admirable. I applauded her 'do what you have to do attitude', but unfortunately, I just found I never really liked her. But I did enjoy her story, although I found the ending a little too neatly tied up.

    I'm still a big fan of Lippman, but this latest offering was not the best of the bunch for this reader.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 5, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    The literary sibling to Breaking Bad & Weeds

    Crime fiction is not a genre I frequently read, but I am a fan of the TV shows Weeds and Breaking Bad, so Laura Lippman's novel And When She Was Good, about a suburban single mom who runs an escort business, intrigued me. (I also live a block away from the place where a woman in NYC was accused of running an escort business.) We meet teenage Helen, verbally abused by her unemployed father, a man separated from his wife and children, and living with Helen and her mother. He becomes more and more erratic and Helen becomes involved with the son of the owner of the restaurant where she works to make money for college. The boyfriend is a troubled guy, a drug user, and convinces Helen to run away with him. Helen ends up working at a strip club and eventually worse. She trades in the bad boyfriend for Val, who is even worse, a seriously tough guy with a bad temper and a gun. When Val kills a man and Helen becomes pregnant, she plots her escape. Flash forward and Helen is now Heloise, living in the suburbs and raising her twelve-year-old son. She is also running an internet escort ring, along with the help of her au pair/assistant Audrey. The only other person she can count on is Tom, a cop who knows what she does and protects her because she once helped him. Heloise keeps a low profile: "She always stands apart on the soccer field, her conversations with the other mothers polite yet fleeting. She's not sure whose fault that is. She stopped trying to figure out if she's standoffish because other mothers snub her or if she's snubbed because the other mothers sense she's standoffish. For the most part, she tells herself that's she's happy for their neglect... True, she encourages incuriosity in most people. Yet it's still hurtful to see how easily people fall into line with one's desire to be ignored." When another suburban madam's murder is made to look like suicide, and Heloise discovers that the man she put behind bars may be getting out of prison and one of her former employees tries to blackmail her, things begin to fall apart. And When She Was Good is a page-turner of a novel, with twists and turns, and you will read it in one sitting. Helen is a tough, smart, resourceful lady, but like Walter White from Breaking Bad and Nancy Botwin from Weeds, Helen sees a secret life of crime as her only solution to the problem of making enough money to support her family, but also like them, she discovers that her decision is bound to catch up with her. The writing is crisp, the characters (even the minor ones) interesting, and the tension ratchets up with each turn of the page. I chewed off more than a few fingernails by the end. (I know, a bad habit) Lippman writes a crackling good novel, and I will be looking for more of her books when I'm in the mood for crime fiction.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 30, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    and when she was good

    The opening sentence of Laura Lippman’s new standalone is nothing if not eye-catching: “Suburban Madam Dead in Apparent Suicide.” The newspaper headline read by Heloise [nee Helen] Lewis is especially attention-getting in that Heloise herself is in the same profession. The dead woman had been arrested eight months earlier and was a month out from trial.

    The events that led Heloise to this place in her life are recounted in deftly placed flashbacks going back 20 years, basically telling of a father who was abusive, physically and mentally, and a mother who valued the man more than she did her own daughter. Perhaps the mental abuse inflicted upon her which resonated most, and longest, was her father’s comment that she had a “nothing face . . . not ugly, but not really pretty either. Unmemorable,” something that she found ultimately worked to her advantage and allowed her to “fade into the background.” Forced to quit school and start working to contribute to the household finances, Helen [her given name] finds herself in one abusive relationship after another, at some point becoming a “paid companion” [just one of the many euphemisms for sex worker], although she is now a registered lobbyist, she runs a high-class escort service, with many important men in the Baltimore/DC area among her regular clientele.

    The most important thing to come out of her last liaison, with the pimp who initially set her up in her own business (now serving a life sentence for murder) is a son, eleven years old as the story opens, whose father knows nothing of his existence, despite the fact that Heloise visits him in jail bi-monthly. What he also does not know is that she was responsible for putting him behind bars.

    The story unwinds at a gentle pace, with each chapter in Heloise’s life laid out in orderly fashion, all the pieces in place. That is, up until an ending which the author has meticulously fashioned, one which took me completely by surprise and had me racing through to the stunning denouement. As good as any of the excellent Tess Monaghan series books and standalones which preceded it, this newest book by Ms. Lippman is highly recommended.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 29, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Smart - well written - Must read!

    Well, the first word I thought of when I finished this book was 'smart'. Well written, great unique storyline, characters that, while not having the same experiences, can still relate to in how she presents the story.

    I loved Heloise. She was a survivor - She started out with a father who ignored who, to a father who beat her, and a mother who was just glad that someone else was taking some of the beatings - so she got out at the first chance she got, even though she wasn't out of high school yet. Unfortunately the man, Billy, she left with was worse than her father and in order to get out from under him, she hooked up with someone who, while providing for her physical comforts, never let her forget that he was in charge. He, Val, punished her for even getting a library card (because he didn't know how to read). You guessed it, for both of these men she turned tricks - the first to pay for Billy's drug use and the second to help pay for the lifestyle. Val had a house full of women that worked for him, but for most of her time with him, Heloise was his favorite.

    She got picked up by a cop who had been watching her for trying to shoplift a home pregnancy test. This turned out to be somewhat of a blessing, as she was able to trade her freedom to provide evidence against Val. So Val is now in jail and she has his son (without his knowledge) but still feels the need to visit him in jail. He gives her the idea and the money to start an escort service, but of course has to have a cut in the profits.

    For 12 years she lives like this - but she is smart, pays her taxes, has fake but plausible businesses to explain her money, and keeps her business separate from her personal life. But as they say, all good things must come to an end. When the suburban madam gets killed in the next county, a former employee tries to blackmail her, and she runs into another former prostitute who also tries to blackmail her - she sees that her luck in avoiding suspicion is beginning to run out.

    As I said before I got sidetracked, I loved Heloise - she was street smart - as well as being well-read. She only had a GED and some online business classes to her name, but she kept informed of current affairs and learned in all situations, or I guess you could say, learned from her mistakes. She loved her son and despite her lack of good parental examples, she seemed to have gotten it right.

    The book is told in the present, with you learning her backstory in flashbacks. It moves along quickly and I read it in pretty much 2 sittings. I was surprised by the ending as I did not figure on the outcome that it had. About 3/4 of the way through I was telling my 20 year old daughter about it and I had in my head the way it was going to end. I was wrong, but she and I both agreed on one of the characters - and on that point we were correct. I wish I could share with you what that was, but it would be a spoiler.

    Point is - this is a great book - and I recommend it!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 27, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    This is the first book by Ms. Lippman that I have read. I will

    This is the first book by Ms. Lippman that I have read. I will admit
    that initially, I had a hard time getting into And When she Was Good.
    But as the book progressed, I was intrigued to find out what makes a
    woman choose to become a madam. I liked the way the story alternated
    between the past and the present. The author does a great job of
    showing the reader how Heloise evolves into "the mother" and
    "the madam". Heloise keeps her life ordered and
    compartmentalized. Few people know what she really does for a living.
    She manages to keep it all from her son and has been raising him in a
    nice, homey environment. The problem is that her normal life and her
    hidden life are slowly crashing together. I think this book will be met
    with mixed feelings. The book is well written and the characters were
    very well fleshed out. I'm just not too sure many of them are likable.
    For me, that includes the main character. I could see how she made her
    early mistakes. Many abused, naive girls fall into situations that they
    can't find a way out of and I can understand that. What I didn't
    understand is why Heloise chose to stay in the life. She had several
    opportunities to make herself into something different. Many single
    mothers manage to go back to school and find jobs with which they can
    support their family. When she is making money as a madam, she chooses
    not to funnel it into an education for herself. I lost some respect for
    her because of this. The subject of prostitution is a very
    controversial issue. Heloise feels she is providing a service, but how
    many families is she helping to tear apart when the husbands come to
    her? I had a hard time reconciling that in my mind. Despite all of
    that, I did enjoy the book and would recommend it. And When She Was
    Good is a book that I believe will be talked about for a long while. I
    did like the ending and I know it is a book that will stay with me for
    a long time. If you are a fan of Laura Lippman, give this new one a shot.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 25, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    perfect end-of-Summer read!

    You know when you say you're gonna read a couple of chapters and suddenly it's 2am an you can't keep your eyes open any more, and you have 3 chapters LEFT to FINISH the book?

    Yup, that's what happened to me! I didn't realize I would be SO hooked on this character! Heloise overcame so much, yet is still caught in a viscous cycle. How she gets 'out' and redeems herself is the core of the story. The author goes back and forth between present day and Heloise's past, giving you the clues to her character, and actions, along the way. Yet the change is welcome, not aggravating, like it can be sometimes. By getting to know Heloise, and all her flaws, we cheer for her success, no matter how it was achieved. her take on the suburbs, the good and bad, only adds to the mix, in presenting a tale that is more common than most realize.

    I found myself hating that the book ended. Lippman says in her endnotes that she has been working around and with the character of Heloise for years, and she finally got her own book.I think the wait was worthwhile for Lippman's fans, and more importantly, I hope she will revisit her in the future. I know i for one, would like to see Heloise succeed in her new venture, and deal with her son's awareness of her past, in another book!

    Kudo's to Lippman for a perfect end-of-Summer read!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 24, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    In the burbs she is a single soccer mom with a forgettable job.

    In the burbs she is a single soccer mom with a forgettable job. In
    Washington she is a redheaded lobbyist with a pretty mediocre record.
    But in fact if you can afford her hourly fee she will be the woman of
    your dreams. She has gone from what he father called a girl with a
    "nothing face" to a woman with a very secret life. She has no
    real friends, keeps her life highly compartmentalized, trusts very few,
    all while trying to shelter her son from what really pays for their
    upper class lifestyle. Then her accountant starts asking questions. Her
    longtime protector is hinting at new mysterious dangers. Her employees
    can't be trusted. Her son's father may be getting out of jail. Oh and
    another suburban madam has been found dead. Nothing is what it seems
    and the stakes are higher than ever. With no formal education, no real
    family, and no friends, it is time to remake her life yet again. The
    disappearing is the easy part. The hard part is staying alive long
    enough to get to the easy part. What an amazing writer! And When She
    Was Good is oh so good!! The character of Helen/Heloise just jumps off
    the page. We see the why and the how her life made this journey.
    Terrible circumstances and poor choices made to escape those
    circumstances put her on this path. A believable path, easy to
    understand, leads her to this dangerous situation. I was afraid at
    first that this was going to be a pretty stereotypical story, abused
    child grows up to become a prostitute, etc. But Lippman took the story
    in another direction. She brought out the mother's love for her son. A
    son with a life so very different from her own. She had two parents in a
    harmful environment with a mother who put her husband's needs and her
    safety ahead of the needs and safety of her daughter. Heloise is doing
    everything for her son to protect him and give him the life she never
    had. She is making her decisions putting him first. Most of the people
    around her don't even know she has a son. She lives to keep him safe.
    Aside from the danger she now faces she knew there would come a time
    that her life would need to take a new direction. As her son matured it
    would be much more difficult to hide or explain the truth about how she
    makes a living. The present situation just moved up her timetable and
    she needs to make the right choices this time. The story travels back
    and forth through time and that kept the pages turning at a very rapid
    pace. It is a story of survival. A small reminder of nature versus
    nurture. With different parents Helen would have traveled down a very
    different path. There would have been no Heloise. This is one of those
    books that will make you want to hug your kids tight after reading it.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 22, 2012

    This book is bold. Lippman doesn¿t hold back and doesn¿t shy awa

    This book is bold. Lippman doesn’t hold back and doesn’t shy away from
    the topic at hand. She shows the gritty life of a sex worker in a
    realistic light, displaying the negative aspects, but also illustrating
    the need for big governmental reform. The story itself is well written
    with memorable characters. You will find yourself drawn into Heloise’s
    life, especially when she talks about her past life as Helen, a young
    woman who is finally realizing the power she has over men. Lippman
    teases out the suspense and mystery without letting the story droop or
    waver. This is definitely a book for anyone willing to think outside the
    box and get into a good mystery!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 21, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    A complex character driven story! Heloise has many faces. To t

    A complex character driven story! Heloise has many faces. To the
    outside world, she’s just a young widow with a forgettable job who never
    misses her son’s soccer games or school plays. In the state capitol,
    she’s a lobbyist for women’s issues. In private, she makes men’s dreams
    come true if they can afford it. The safe world she has built is
    falling apart. Another madam has been found dead and the police are
    unsure whether it’s a suicide or not as the evidence just doesn’t really
    seem to stack up. People are hinting to her that she needs to be
    careful, her employees are plotting behind her back and to top it all
    off, there’s a chance that her son’s father might be released from
    prison. He doesn’t know he has a son or that Heloise is the reason he’s
    serving a life sentence, but he is beginning to suspect she’s keeping
    secrets from him. Heloise is going to have to run, to once again remake
    her life with no formal education, no real family and no friends.
    Disappearing is easy for her if she can live long enough to accomplish
    it. If I were to describe And When She Was Good in one sentence, it
    would be: A complex character driven story. It’s Heloises’ memories,
    actions, emotions and reactions that fuel this book. Laura Lippman has
    created a character that is so complex that she could be your neighbor,
    your babysitter or that woman staring at you funny at the grocery store.
    It’s not just the main character that feels that way either. The
    characters have so much depth to them that it feels like she could write
    at least a novella on each one. These are not just characters in a
    book. They’re edgy, compelling and real and that makes the story the
    same. I found myself caught in the web of this novel just like Heloise
    was caught in her own web. I will definitely be reading more from Laura
    Lippman! Thank you to Partner’s in Crime Tours and William Morrow (
    Harper Collins ) for the ARC copy. It in no way influenced my review.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 20, 2012

    Awesome Book!!!

    Heloise, born Helen, is a single mother and a business woman. Formerly a prostitute she now owns her own "consulting" business that caters to high profile men such as lawyers and polititians from Baltimore, Washington DC and Annapolis. She has tried to keep this part of her life secret as she lives in suburbia and is the typical mother. She pretty much keeps to herself and lives her life solely for her son. The death of a woman who was a madame with her own business is found dead, a suspected suicide, changes her life in a dangerous way. She not only has to deal with an ex employee who threatens to sue her because she claims she contracted HIV while in Heloise's employ, Heloise has a friend and protector in the police department who would warn her of any attempts to investigate her and her business, has decided to retire. The man who was her "pimp" is in prison for murder and Heloise comes to realize that this man can and will do whatever it takes to protect his interests. In describing what kind of woman Heloise is, the author tells a backstory of her life growing up in a dysfunctional family and her relationship with the man who is the father of her child.Ms.Lippman has the unique talent in setting up the story for the reader along with any backstory needed and then gives an ending that is totally unexpected. The latest psychological thriller from a gifted storyteller. A novel not to be missed. I highly recommend it and give it 5 stars.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 20, 2012

    Heloise has had a difficult past. Emotionally abused as a child

    Heloise has had a difficult past. Emotionally abused as a child,
    Heloise has used some of this abuse as a way to make herself stronger
    and to build up her "professional" life later on. While she
    appears to have a regular job and manages to be a wonderful mother,
    Heloise is working both by day and night. She is now a Madam and
    somewhat in control of her own situation. Unfortunately, outside forces
    will decide her fate if she doesn't figure out the mystery fast.
    Heloise's character was nice enough, but hard to connect with in some
    ways. She is a good mother, caring for her child above all, but her
    disregard for some of the other characters casts aspersions on her own
    character. The reader will feel bad for her, her past makes her
    sympathetic. The other characters range from irredeemable to integral
    to the story. Val Deluca, a pimp and someone connected to Heloise via
    her child, is truly evil. He doesn't care for anyone except himself and
    disposes of those who displease him. Luckily, Val is locked in jail,
    though that doesn't stop Heloise from visiting him. Will Heloise ever
    move on and will Val's mysterious hold on her be explained? Overall,
    this book was a suspenseful read. Every piece of the story is of some
    importance, the author doesn't just throw down random information or
    characters. The world of prostitutes and madams is an interesting one,
    the reader will be able to tell the author did her research. The
    characters have depth, even though Heloise is hard to warm up to, the
    reader will still care about her. This book is recommended to adult readers.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 21, 2014

    I have a new favorite author!

    I just loved everything about this novel! The characters were multi-dimensional, somewhat flawed, well-developed and believable. The content is thought-provoking and intelligent. The story moved quickly and kept you guessing for a while. Some parts were predictable but some were shockers. I will definitely be reading more by Ms. Lippman!
    ?...wjj

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 23, 2014

    Unsavory main character

    This is the first book I have read by this author. It held my interest at the beginning. After a while I started to dislike the main character Heloise. It was difficult for me to keep rooting for her. I read to the finish but will probably skip this author in the future.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 25, 2014

    Great reading and captivating author!

    I loved this book and I could not put it down! Compelling story and entertaining plot! I'm waiting for part two!

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