About Me

Ithaca, New York
MWF, now officially 42, loves long walks on the beach and laughing with friends ... oh, wait. By day, I'm a mid-level university administrator reluctant to be more specific on a public forum. Nights and weekends, though, I'm a homebody with strong nerdist leanings. I'm never happier than when I'm chatting around the fire, playing board games, cooking up some pasta, and/or road-tripping with my family and friends. I studied psychology and then labor economics in school, and I work in higher education. From time to time I get smug, obsessive, or just plain boring about some combination of these topics, especially when inequality, parenting, or consumer culture are involved. You have been warned.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

#85: Lily White

Lily White, by Susan Isaacs
New York: HarperCollins, 1996
"Meet Lily White, Long Island criminal defense lawyer. Smart, savvy, and down-to-earth, Lee can spot a phony the way her snooty mother can spot an Armani. Enter handsome career con man Norman Torkelson, charged with murder; to wit, strangling his latest mark after bilking her out of her life's savings. As the astounding twists and reverses of the Torkelson case are revealed, so too is the riveting story behind Lee's life.

"The critically acclaimed New York Times bestselling author ... Susan Isaacs has crafted her most dazzling novel of manners and morality. Lily White is a brilliantly crafted story of con artists and true lovers, of treachery and devotion -- and of one brave lawyer's triumphant fight for justice."

Opening Line:
"I was never a virgin."

My Take:
Needed something just plain entertaining after the density of 1491 and the often-heavy subject matter of Redemption ... plus, this is a small paperback that won't add much to the weight of my suitcase on the flight home. Should be fun.

(Afterwards) A fluffy, reasonably entertaining airplane read, which is about what I was looking for. Certainly worth the quarter I paid for it at the Boston Public Library book sale, though not one I'll need to keep around now that I've read it once. The book alternates between two stories:  Lily/ Lee's childhood, growing up in the fictional Shorehaven, Long Island in the 1960s and '70s; and the tale of her defending Norman Torkelson. Of the two, I found the former more interesting, but don't know exactly why. There's even a mystery of sorts in Lee's past: Who is the male partner she refers to throughout the book (but never by name), and how did they come together? My suspicions on this point were wrong not once, but three times (sort of), so props to Isaacs on that score -- though I'm not sure I'm 100% pleased with the final answer to this question.

Regarding the Torkelson case, this was a reasonably engaging story in itself. In brief, with no spoilers, even though the prosecution's case against Torkelson looks rock solid, and a professional con man does not the world's most sympathetic witness make, Lee's seen more than enough evidence to convince her that Norman's girlfriend Mary is a far more likely suspect. The trouble? Norman flatly refuses to let Lee talk to Mary, or to offer any defense for himself other than a simple, "I didn't kill her." Is he conning Lee, Mary, or both of them? What's Mary's own angle? And just how accurate are Lee's suspicions?

As I've said of many a book before, serious literature this one ain't -- but if you're looking for something fun to read on a trip, this will suffice.

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