In “And When She Was Good” (William Morrow, $26.99), Laura Lippman creates empathy for a woman whose life choices are somewhat questionable.
Heloise Lewis is a businesswoman and single mom who lives in the suburb of Turner's Grove, a gated community within commuting distance of Baltimore, Washington and Annapolis, Md.
Her neighbors speculate about how she affords her lifestyle. She doesn't share any information with them.
She claims to run a boutique lobbying firm, whose mission statement identifies it as a nonprofit organization focused on income parity for women. It's called the Women's Full Employment Network. In actuality, it's a high-class call girl service.
Heloise is a madam for the high-tech age, even borrowing some of her sales tactics from Amazon. She's highly successful.
But her son Scott is about to turn 12, and it's getting harder to hide her true profession.
After running away at 17 from a father who physically abused her, Heloise ended up in the control of another brutal man, Val, Scott's father and Heloise's former pimp. He is in prison and has never been told he has a son. But Heloise visits him weekly.
When another suburban madam is murdered, Heloise thinks Val is responsible. She finds herself in danger of losing everything, including her son. Then a former employee claims to have AIDS and wants to file for workman's comp, claiming she contracted the disease on the job.
Heloise's reactions when her business and her life are in jeopardy are that of a controlled, self-sufficient woman. She is determined to save herself, her son and her lifestyle.
— Betty Lytle