30 January 2019

Book Review: The Girl in the Green Raincoat by Laura Lippman

Girl in the Green Raincoat Cover

This is the book’s description from Goodreads: “Originally serialized in the New York Times, The Girl in the Green Raincoat is now in book form for the very first time—a masterful thriller in the Alfred Hitchcock mode that places a very pregnant, homebound Tess in the center of a murderous puzzle that could cost her her life and the life of her unborn child.”

As you know if you read last week’s blog post, I wasn’t particularly impressed with this author’s Wilde Lake; everything about it, to me, was mediocre. I picked up The Girl in the Green Raincoat when I chose Wilde Lake because it’s a 158-page novelette that I knew would be a quick read. I’m heading into a busy time and won’t be able to read as much, so I’m going to be reading shorter works for the next couple of months.

I really enjoyed this clever book. It’s in the same vein as Rear Window and The Daughter of Time. It combines suspense and humor to tell a Hitchcockian-style mystery. Although the humor wasn’t blow-milk-out-your-nose funny, it was smile-and-chuckle funny, while still maintaining the suspense that’s necessary for a good mystery.

What I found most impressive about this story is that it was originally serialized, which, from my past experience, doesn’t always lend itself to a good book. The previously serialized works I’ve read in the past have included repetitive descriptions of characters and settings and have included recaps of what happened earlier in the book. The author was anticipating that the reader would, necessarily, be putting down the book between chapters and then catching up again next week. While that may work when the story is serialized, the repetition and recaps make me lose interest when I’m reading a book. Although Ms. Lippman’s chapters didn’t stand alone, they ended in a place that I was comfortable with, then picked up in media res without a need for explanations of what had happened in earlier chapters.

Each chapter ended with, if not a cliffhanger, something interesting enough to make me want to continue reading. The engaging narration made for a smooth read. The prose was simple enough to be a quick read but was also descriptive, good writing.

Tess Monaghan, the protagonist, is well-developed. She’s smart, funny, stubborn, at times morose with low self-esteem, at times very sure of herself. She’s relatable, and I felt invested in the outcome of her story. I got attached to her and understood her wants and needs. I felt for her. I liked her story.

I give this book 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for any lover of mysteries.