by Cynthia Chow
Details on how to win a copy of this book at the end of the review & links to purchase it.
Taking her name from a misspelled police report and a can of peas, Milicent Le Sueur wanders through the streets of Portsmith, Virginia, proudly declaring herself to be the only bag lady in town. With little memory of the woman she once was, Milicent emphatically separates herself from the homeless, asserting that she has a home—a wheel-less 1990 Nissan parked in a junkyard—as well as very specialized and decorative bags. Frequently off her medication that controls her OCD tendencies and prevents her thoughts from spiraling, Milicent is often dismissed and looked upon with distain. One of those who sees past Milicent’s off-putting exterior is Police Chief Wade Tate, who she considers her best friend and a new love interest. When Milicent is the lone witness of the suspected hit-and-run of a teenaged girl, Wade Tate takes up the challenge of interpreting her labyrinth-like thought processes to get to the truth.
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As Milicent continues to go throughout her days, the city manager pressures Wade Tate to arrest Milicent and quickly tie up the case. While Milicent is willing to accept a night in a cell as shelter from the harsh winter weather, she is not about to allow herself to fall into the trap of obedient institutionalized behavior. At the core Milicent still retains her intelligence and moral goodness, and though she can be derailed by her thoughts, she proves far more canny and capable than one would expect. Becoming a bag lady may be the most nightmarish of fates for women, but Milicent’s bag lady exterior allows her to be overlooked and underestimated as an effective investigator.
A narrator who is both mentally troubled and a “bag lady” could seem off-putting, but the unexpected delight is just how charming and funny Milicent becomes to readers. Her wry observations of society are often very sharp, and gradually readers will follow her serpentine way of thinking. Although very humorous, there are moments that truly send daggers through one’s heart. Milicent’s practical acceptance that she has lost the woman she once was and her ability to cope with her present life, are both poignant and sadly admirable. Milicent blithely accepts her daily challenges, cleaning restaurant bathrooms for food, taking pride in being clean, and being protective of what she considers hers. Perhaps most refreshing are the locals who recognize her intelligence, and while they would prefer that she remain safe, respect her independence.
The author of the critically lauded Bonita Faye and the light-hearted Honey Huckleberry series, Mosley has crafted a thoroughly unique and rewarding novel. Milicent Le Sueur never shies away from very serious and complex topics, but it is all conveyed through the voice of an engaging and entertaining character.
To enter to win a copy of Milicent Le Sueur, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “milicent,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen February 4, 2017. U.S. residents only. If entering via email please included your mailing address.
You can use these links to purchase the book. If you have adblocker on you may not be able to see the Amazon link:
Disclosure: This post contains links to an affiliate program, for which we receive a few cents if you make purchases. KRL also receives free copies of most of the books that it reviews, that are provided in exchange for an honest review of the book.