The Pequod Review:
Laura Lippman joins social history with a murder plot in her twenty-third novel, Lady in the Lake. The book is set in 1960s Baltimore and is primarily the story of Maddie Schwartz, a 37-year-old housewife turned newspaper reporter who discovers the body of an African-American cocktail waitress (Cleo Sherwood) in the fountain of a local park. Nobody else seems too interested in what happened to Cleo so Maddie decides to investigate it herself, and in the process she learns a lot about the racism and sexism of the era.
How childish grown men could be, in a way women never were, not in Maddie's experience. Sullen and grumpy, still playing by the sandlot rules, obsessed with fairness and stature. Of course women cared about stature, too, but they learned early to surrender any idea that life was a series of fair exchanges. A girl discovered almost in the cradle that things would never be fair.
What the book lacks in narrative tension, it makes up for with strong scenes and very good characters.