Lisa Lieberman

Lisa Lieberman’s All the Wrong Places is more than a well-styled mystery: it’s beautiful writing.  True, in the typical mode of mystery we have a young woman haunted throughout the novel by the unsolved death of her mother, with intriguing hints snaking to the surface about the mother’s hidden connection to fellow-travelers, the unraveling of her marriage, and uncertainty whether her death was suicide or at the hand of a mysterious man.  But the main pleasure of this book is Lieberman’s downright literary writing.  She masterfully captures the tensions of McCarthy-era Hollywood, the gritty deprivation and hazy jazz mystique of post-war England, and the wild lushness and exoticism of Italy.  Reading her novel is like immersing oneself in the shadows of 1950s British noir or in the brilliant, sweeping color and Cinemascope of 1950s European location shooting.  She moves you effortlessly liebermanfrom All Night Long and The Long Memory to Boy on a Dolphin or Pandora and the Flying Dutchman.  Better yet, her characters are deftly drawn, with a heroine, Cara Walden, who starts out as a troubled yet intelligent and sensitive girl then grows through mystery, social/political strife, and tempestuous romance into a strong, knowing, giving and forgiving woman.  Lieberman’s characters’ genuine feelings, failings, and triumphs put a human face on the pain that racism, political persecutions, misogyny, homophobia, and the brutal destruction left by war score on the soul.  I cannot recommend this book enough, for Lieberman is a pleasure to read.  I hope there will be more on the experiences of Cara Walden, for she is a woman I care about and admire – and Lisa Lieberman does a wondrous job in recreating an era that fascinates me.

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