And When She Was Good, by Laura Lippman, is two stories woven together: one about a suburban soccer mom (who also happens to be a madam) and the other a sad tale of the life that led a teenage girl into prostitution.
It is a compelling novel, and the modern storyline is surprisingly normal and neither sensationalized nor especially provocative. Heloise is a loving mother who most people believe to be a respectable lobbyist. Her firm, supposedly advocating for pay equity for women, employs pretty co-eds as upscale escorts. It's all relayed in a manner most matter-of-fact, neither unseemly nor glamorized either. It is what it is, and the life and business affords Heloise the opportunity to provide very well for her small family.
But then another suburban madam is murdered. The police start asking questions, and Heloise realizes that she knows the woman from their shared and troubled past. Her secrets may be catching up to her, and the normal life she's planned may elude her and her son yet.
It is certainly an interesting mystery and well-woven tale. The only drawback for me was that I didn't resonate with Heloise at all. She wasn't especially sympathetic, but neither was she portrayed as a villain. She was written in a way that made her seem far off, not easy to relate to or cheer on (or despise, for that matter). The story was interesting, but it fell flat for me because I didn't feel particularly invested in Heloise's character. Her son's character was barely developed at all; he's almost a fringe figure, even though we are told how all of Heloise's decisions are carefully measured and made around him. If their characters had been written more warmly, I think I would have enjoyed the book more.
Book provided to me for review by TLC Book Tours.