A New York Times Bestseller
The revered New York Times bestselling author returns with a novel set in 1960s Baltimore that combines modern psychological insights with elements of classic noir, about a middle-aged housewife turned aspiring reporter who pursues the murder of a forgotten young woman.
In 1966, Baltimore is a city of secrets that everyone seems to know—everyone, that is, except Madeline "Maddie" Schwartz. Last year, she was a happy, even pampered housewife. This year, she's bolted from her marriage of almost twenty years, determined to make good on her youthful ambitions to live a passionate, meaningful life.
Maddie wants to matter, to leave her mark on a swiftly changing world. Drawing on her own secrets, she helps Baltimore police find a murdered girl—assistance that leads to a job at the city's afternoon newspaper, the Star. Working at the newspaper offers Maddie the opportunity to make her name, and she has found just the story to do it: Cleo Sherwood, a missing woman whose body was discovered in the fountain of a city park lake.
If Cleo were white, every reporter in Baltimore would be clamoring to tell her story. Instead, her mysterious death receives only cursory mention in the daily newspapers, and no one cares when Maddie starts poking around in a young Black woman's life—except for Cleo's ghost, who is determined to keep her secrets and her dignity. Cleo scolds the ambitious Maddie: You're interested in my death, not my life. They're not the same thing.
Maddie's investigation brings her into contact with people that used to be on the periphery of her life—a jewelry store clerk, a waitress, a rising star on the Baltimore Orioles, a patrol cop, a hardened female reporter, a lonely man in a movie theater. But for all her ambition and drive, Maddie often fails to see the people right in front of her. Her inability to look beyond her own needs will lead to tragedy and turmoil for all sorts of people—including Ferdie, the man who shares her bed, a police officer who is risking far more than Maddie can understand.