Seasonal Work: Stories

Morrow. Jan. 2022. 336p. ISBN 9780063000032. $26.99. M
This collection of a dozen delightful stories from Lippman (“Tess Monaghan” series; Dream Girl) feature resourceful women from many walks of life. In the title story, a 14-year-old relates her grifter stepfather’s cunning Christmas con; the early 1960s–set “The Everyday Housewife” has Tess Monaghan’s mother evading ennui by observing her neighbors; a “Cougar” mom contends with her meth-dealing, freeloading son and his girlfriend; a girl trapped in the “Ice” of a skating pond contemplates the real events of her drowning death while another girl skates on thin ice above. Lippman’s heroines are not easily scorned or fooled, except occasionally by themselves. This is evident in the haunting “Five Fires,” and in the only new novella in the collection, the COVID-tinged “Just One More,” with a couple in lockdown trying to revive their marriage. Even when readers see the punchline coming, they will enjoy the intricate characterizations, excellent sense of place, and eagle-eyed cultural references. The last three stories in the collection are the strongest, especially “Slow Burner,” about a cheating husband, a suspicious wife, and an extra cell phone.
VERDICT A must for Lippman fans and devotees of female-empowerment crime fiction.
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