Lipstick and Lies by
pbk out February 99
It is not entirely true that, with Lesley Grant-Adamson, one never knows what to expect. Her latest novel, just like the thirteen which preceded it, is intelligent and intriguing. But she is a restless experimenter who loves to explore different aspects of the crime novel and here she has tried her
hand at a story about a fifties murder, recollected in the present day by the daughter of the woman who died. The old killing has distant echoes of the Ruth Ellis case, with the roles of convicted murderer (the dashing boyfriend) and victim (a woman with a yearning for excitement) reversed, but any similarities are of no consequence. The main focus is on the reaction of the daughter, Anna, to a new investigation of the crime by Gillian Spry, from the charity Criminal Justice Investigations. Soon it becomes clear that dark secrets are buried in the past.
The opening chapters of the book are written in Grant-Adamson's characteristically crisp yet under-stated style and the sections set in the past are replete with authentic period detail. If there is a weakness, perhaps it lies in the middle section of the book, where the pace flags a little (not assisted by the somewhat fragmentary narrative structure and the fact that Anna is, at least on the surface, rather a cold fish), but this is redeemed in the later part of the story. For, although the final revelations do not come as a surprise, they are nevertheless shocking - perhaps all the more so for being described in such unemphatic prose. The closing paragraph captures quite beautifully the ambiguities of life and
the story as a whole tells us a good deal about the ambiguities of justice.
- author of the highly acclaimed Harry Devlin Mysteries)