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Hardly Knew Her Paperback – September 29, 2009
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In Twenty Years: A Novel
When five college roommates gather after twenty years, can the rifts between them be repaired? Learn More
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Top Customer Reviews
Lippman is an accomplished mystery and crime writer, and the stories here have her signature style, combining a journalistic voice with a highly charged emotional intensity (not to mention a scathing wit). In these selections there is usually a sad and cynical outcome, and even though, a few stories in, the resolution of each tale becomes familiar and predictable, each is entertaining and well-written.
Two stories center on Lippman's well-known character, private investigator Tess Monaghan. Another, as well as the novella, revolves around a former street-walker turned madame and suburban prostitute named Heloise. In "One True Love," Heloise's two lives collide when a john turns out to be the father of a boy on her own son's soccer team. She must figure out how to protect herself from the damage he could do to her legally, emotionally and physically, and she especially must protect her young son Scott. In "Scratch a Woman," Heloise's conflict is with her half-sister Meghan, an uptight and emotionally damaged suburban mom whose attempted murder of her husband is witnessed by her dangerous neighbor. In the Heloise portions of the book, we get a sense of what brought the sisters to these sad points in their lives, but the majority of the stories show us just acts of violence, and the moments before and after them.Read more ›
The 16 shorts and a novella in Lippman's Hardly Knew Her are exceptional. I was convinced after reading these tales of murder that any ordinary soccer mom, or bored retiree, or devoted husband and father can easily be driven to homicide in a weak moment. What is so chilling about the situations in many of the stories, at least to me, is the feeling that I have met all these people before. They are not cackling madwomen, but my neighbors, my coworkers, my school friends....yikes. That is not to say that Lippman's stories themselves are ordinary - far from it.
Any one of these stories could be expanded into a full-length novel, but Lippman has pruned wisely, and carefully chosen every word to create smart noir in each of the tales. Well worth the time.
Many of the stories are set in Baltimore, where I live, so there is also the pleasing shock of familiarity. A very few depend on local preoccupations, such as Preakness or the Orioles, and may be less immediate to outsiders. As if to compensate, there is a group entitled "Other Cities, Not My Own," set in places like New Orleans and Dublin, but the stories set on Lippman's home turf seem more deeply rooted psychologically as well.
With the exception of three stories featuring Lippman's private detective Tess Monaghan, which tend to deal with lesser crimes, most of the murders in this collection go undetected or unpunished.Read more ›
Lippman's stories explore various ways in which women sell sex for money. The stories are very different, they are narrated in very distinctive voices and are set in extremely different social surroundings. Still, each of them addresses the relationship between sex and money in a way that is always insightful and fresh. Cheap didacticism is alien to Lippman. Among her female characters who sell their bodies in a variety of inventive ways, the only one who has character and integrity is a career prostitute. She is, of course, despised by housewives who believe that selling themselves just to one man is somehow better. Lippman makes it very clear that her sympathies lie with the honest, resourceful prostitute and not with the spoiled housewives who go to great lengths to convince themselves of their non-existent superiority. This kind of honesty is not easy to find in a genre that is addressed to an overwhelmingly female audience. The desire to keep the housewives happy and cater to their tastes has been the downfall of many an entertainer. Thankfully, Lippman is not one of them.
Laura Lippman lives in Baltimore, and most of her stories are set in this city. The few times that she ventures to other settings, her stories lose in quality.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I have many of Laura's novels and she didn't disappoint me with her book of short stories. I found her endings of each story very satisfying. Read morePublished 2 months ago by marty somoza
Brilliant writing! Most stories focus on a situation that leads to a crime. The endings are surprising and intriguing. I'm a big fan of Laura Lippman. Read morePublished 10 months ago by Sciencebird
This reader, not a short story fan, enjoyed each of Lippman's stories. The action I is brisk, the humor is wry, and the characters are intriguing. Read morePublished 10 months ago by HKG
I love this book. I borrowed a copy from a friend, who had borrowed from another friend. This is the sort of book you will want to share. The stories are DARK. Read morePublished 14 months ago by Jenny
Can't figure this one out....when I first starting reading this collection of stories, I thought it was someone aping Laura Lippman's style; that it must have been recommended by... Read morePublished 20 months ago by See what's in Store
Nothing major; no twisted plots requiring deep attention - typical sassy style but within several short stories.... Read morePublished 23 months ago by gfb
Great collection of short stories mainly featuring women taking things into their own hands - very empowering!!Published on June 30, 2014 by Kindle Customer