At this point, any new work by Laura Lippman is an automatic must read for me. Novel, short story, novella, short essay, anything.
So, when "The Girl in the Green Raincoat" arrived, even though I had a long list of other books demanding my attention, I just couldn’t help but take a peek inside the covers of this one. One sentence into the story and I was hooked.
This novella, originally published in the New York Times Magazine, finds Lippman’s Tess Monagahan confined to bed rest for the final two months of her pregnancy. Tess decides she’ll use the time to catch up on her reading and movie watching, but ends up taking a page from "Rear Window" and becoming curious about a woman in a green raincoat who walks her dog each afternoon. Tess quickly requests a pair of binoculars just as the green raincoated woman disappears, but leaves the dog running free.
Before you know it, Tess is pulling in Crow, Whitney and several other familiar faces from the long-running series to help her look into the mysterious disappearance of this woman.
"The Girl in the Green Raincoat" rockets along at a confident pace, doing what all good mysteries do–putting all the clues out in plain site but not necessarily telling you how they’ll all connect until the final few pages. Lippman connects Tess and the green raincoat girl in a number of ways and it’s nice to see not only Tess’ inner struggle but also nice to get a chance to spend some time with recurring character and Tess’s best friend Whitney as well. The sequences in the story that take place from Whitney’s point of view with Tess off-screen as it were are among the most compelling in the book and will have long-time fans wondering if a novel centering more on Whitney might not be a good idea in the near future.
As with all Lippman stories, I was drawn in by the first few sentences and the hold didn’t let go until I’d turned the final page. This novella is intensely satisfying and well-constructed and the only complaint I can find with it is my own impatience in not savoring it more.
Another winner from one of the top writers working today.