Hardly Knew Her

Hardly Knew Her

by Laura Lippman

I’m Kim Alexander and this is Fiction Nation. The book is Hardly Knew Her by Laura Lippman.

I’m trying something different today and featuring a book of short stories — but what stories they are! You may know Laura Lippman from her series of crime novels set in Baltimore with detective Tess Monoghan — she’s written a ton of them, and yet she found some time to write these short stories with characters like the soccer mom madam, her murderous half sister, also the aging accidental porno actress, the pony girl (don’t ask), some thrill seekers in Dublin, and one nice kid who’s just trying to make a buck at the Preakness. These stories have one thing in common: crime. Nasty, twisty, and mostly unlamented. Crimes of passion, crimes of a lack of passion, all inventive and some, despite the body count, alarmingly funny. My favorite character was Heloise in the central story Scratch A Woman; she’s the suburban madam. She’s a role model for working mothers — she even pays her girls’ health insurance. Of course she relies on discretion so it is no joke when her tooth-grindingly angry sister Meghan turns up living in the next subdivision. You know there’s going to be trouble, but Lippman always keeps you guessing how bad the trouble’s going to be and where it’s finally going to come from.

I usually stay clear of short stories because I never feel like I know the characters well enough to care about their fate, but Lippman’s skill won me over. These stories are dark, violent, bloody (and funny) and honestly, I don’t know if I could take a whole book of Meghan — although more of Heloise, please!

There’s even an appearance by Tess, for those who miss her.

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