Sometimes you’re hot. Sometimes you’re not. Sorry to say, this time you’re not, Ms. Lippman. You ran this one right off the rails. Hey, it happens to all artists once in a while. I saw – read – it happen with Lee Child, Kate Atkinson and even, yes even John Sandford. Perhaps we can blame it on the publishers who force you superstar novelists into meeting impossible deadlines. Who can write a brilliant book once a year?
I know it takes me more time than that, not to just to produce a first draft but to hone and revise it multiple times until I’m convinced it’s good enough for the public. I have a sneaking suspicion this is what happened with “Lady in the Lake” – it reads like a first draft, written either completely or almost so straight from your head to your fingers. IMO, one of the telltale signs is how you jump from scenes and characters each chapter, often without so much as clue as to who’s narrating now, or what’s supposed to be going on, or why you’re giving a chapter to this minor character, or how all these too-many different people and incidents are supposed to fit together.
Did you have an editor at William Morrow? Or did they just slap your Word file into InDesign and start printing covers? Because if you did in fact have an editor who read this manuscript and let it go to production in this rough shape, you need a new editor. I found what I call logic bombs in almost every chapter.
This work is just plain sloppy, Ms. Lippman, and if I were you, (1) I would already know it, and (2) I wouldn’t be reading the reviews, because I’m not alone in giving “Lady” a thumbs-down. I’m going to re-read Chandler’s novel, whose title you appropriated.
And I would also proffer this advice: don’t rush your craft. You’re a good writer – not great but good, and I’ve enjoyed several of your earlier novels. Writing a book is a precious experience, and I believe we ought to give the literature we write our best efforts, regardless of pressures from the publishers – hey, we are creating art, here! – we don’t let it go out into the world until we are utterly convinced that it’s ready.