Tuesday, February 15, 2011
The Girl in the Green Raincoat: Review
I have to admit to a bit of prejudice when it comes to authors (film-makers, whatever) taking a beloved story and redoing it or working it with a twist. Scarlett, the sequel to Gone with the Wind? Not so much. Rebecca's Story as a continuation of Rebecca? A little better. Mixing Jane Austen characters with zombies? No way, Jose! So when I started seeing Laura Lippmann's The Girl in the Green Raincoat popping up on various blogs, I was fascinated, intrigued, and leery all at the same time. Rear Window is one of my all-time favourite Alfred Hitchcock films and I hated to think that someone had taken the story and screwed it up. And yet the comparisons between Lippman's short novel and Rear Window all sounded really good. So, I decided to give it a shot. Boy, am I glad I did. This is a marvelous twist on the immobile voyeuristic detective peering out her window and seeing events that put all her investigating instincts on high alert.
In Raincoat, private dectective Tess Monaghan has been put on bedrest during the third trimester of her pregnancy. Confined to the winterized back porch of her bungalow, she is bored amidst the stacks of books, DVDs and laptop companionship her family and friends have thoughtfully provided for her. So, she takes to people-watching. Her windows look out on a park where she can watch all the local dog-walkers. One woman in particular catches her eye. Dressed in a green raincoat, she walks her minature greyhound (who also sports a green raincoat) at the same time each day. Then, one day the pair walk into the park, but only the dog comes out. Tess soon finds that the girl in the raincoat is married to a man who seems to have singuarly bad luck with women...two wives and a former girlfriend all dead and now his third wife missing (away on business, or so he says). Tess immediately smells something fishy and soon is using her laptop and all her resources to try and find out whether the man has helped the women in his life out of this world--literally. Little does she realize the Pandora's box she is opening and how close to home the danger will come.
This is a very short novel. Easy to read and captivating. And, although this is a suspenseful story (particularly at the end), it has a lot of humor. I have had mixed results with Laura Lippman. I loved In a Strange City, which was my first introduction to Tess. But then when I went back to the beginning and tried to read through the series from the opening with Baltimore Blues, I just couldn't get into that one. Raincoat has me loving Tess Monaghan again. Four stars.