Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Life sentences, by Laura Lippman

I am such a fan of this American writer's Tess Monaghan private eye series, with its quirky humour, spot-on characterisation and richly detailed descriptions of life in Baltimore.
I've admired, too, her non-series titles - Every secret thing, To the power of three and What the dead know, so I dived enthusiastically into Lippman's latest offering, Life sentences, only to be disappointed.
The idea is promising. The main character, author Cassandra Fallows, has written two remarkably successful memoirs. Now, with her first novel a failure, she decided to mine her earlier life again. But her focus this time is not herself, but the fifth member of her group of best friends at school, a shy, unobtrusive girl named Calliope Jenkins, who years later would be accused of killing her infant son. The child's body was never found and Calliope remained mute and in jail for seven years before being released.
While the book is well-written, the characters let it down. They're all unattractively smug and I found it hard to care about any of them.
Make up your own mind about this one - but please don't let this be your introduction to Lippman's work. She can do better.
Rating - I give this 3/5
Reviewed by Jan @ Ballarat branch

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