Attention, mystery lovers — you can start your 2019 summer reading list now.
The best-selling and much-awarded Baltimore novelist Laura Lippman gave her audience at Church of the Redeemer a tantalizing glimpse of her newest book, tentatively titled “Lady in the Lake.” Lippman, who read a few pages from her manuscript-in-progress, appeared at the presentation with fellow Baltimore author and longtime NPR commentator Marion Winik.
The novel is inspired by the real-life, unsolved drowning of 35-year-old Shirley Lee Wigeon Parker, whose body was found on June 2, 1969 in a fountain at the center of Druid Lake. The book is planned for release in July 2019 by William Morrow, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.
Lippman wrote in an email to The Baltimore Sun that the novel is set in 1966 and features almost 20 points of view. But the story is told primarily by two women: Madeline “Maddie” Schwartz, who bolts a seemingly happy and stable marriage to pursue her youthful ambitions, and the African-American murder victim, Cleo Sherwood, whose ghost haunts Maddie.
The novel includes two real-life characters, Violet Hill Whyte, who in 1937 became the Baltimore Police Department’s first African-American officer, and Paul L.D. Blair, a former outfielder for the Baltimore Orioles.
This won’t be the first time that Lippman has narrated a story from the point of view of a character with a different racial background from her own. She did it first in 1999 in “Butchers Hill” and in her 2003 novel, “Every Secret Thing,” one major character is an upper middle-class African-American woman determined to seek justice for her dead child.
So the author isn’t daunted by the challenge of narrating large chunks of her new books from Cleo’s point of view. What really has her nerves on edge are the passages she has to write narrated by the baseball player.
“Seriously,” she wrote, “the chapter that worries me the most is the one trying to imagine an at-bat from Paul Blair's point-of-view. A friend who's a baseball historian is taking a look at that one. “