Book Review: Maggie Terry a novel by Sarah Schulman

This pulp fiction novel bleeds desperation, anxiety and struggle and takes place during a relentless New York summer whilst a madman called Trump is in the White House.

Maggie Terry’s life is a mess but she’s been given a second chance. It’s her first day on a new job as a private investigator at a small law firm run by a guy who’s son she tried to save and failed. Now he’s saving her following the loss of her job as a cop after her partner was killed and 18 months in rehab after being sectioned by her now ex-partner who won’t let her see her child anymore.

Whoever had thought up date night for long-term couples should have been shot on the spot. It was all about creating pressure and then shining a light on everyone’s inadequacies. There was pressure to prove that one was loveable, pressure to keep up her end of the conversation, to show she was interested, to ask the right questions, to try to get the fucking discussion going in a way that would bring them closer. Not to fall into old traps of unresolved conflicts and problems that never went away, that was not the goal of date night.

All Maggie’s emotional energy is exhausted by being angry at her ex, missing her daughter and trying to stay sober by attending 12-step meetings intermittently throughout the day. She struggles with simple day to day tasks like buying teabags whilst trying rebuild her shattered life and take stock of all the changes in New York.

What was she supposed to do? Find a way to get foolish bravado out of mint tea, or find a way to be terrified all the time and let that be okay?

Famous actress, Lucy Horne, turns up at the law firm on Maggie’s first day seeking the discrete investigation of the murder of a strangled minor actress. Horne identifies the actresses famous novelist and boyfriend as a potential suspect.

That was the problem with taking responsibility, Maggie remembered. Everything becomes deeper. It is not a way out of life, it is only a way in.

The novel explores police brutality, addiction, queer love and New York nostalgia. I found it an easy, enjoyable and fast read.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s