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  • Writer's pictureJudith D Collins

Prom Mom

Narrator: Andi Arndt


ISBN: 9780062998064

Publisher: William Morrow

Publication Date: 07/25/2023

Format: Hardcover

My Rating: 5 Stars + (ARC)

New York Times bestseller Laura Lippman tells the story of Amber Glass, desperately trying to get away from her tabloid past but compulsively drawn back to the city of her youth and the prom date who destroyed everything she was reaching for.

Amber Glass has spent her entire adult life putting as much distance as possible between her and her hometown of Baltimore, where she fears she will forever be known as “Prom Mom”—the girl who allegedly killed her baby on the night of the prom after her date, Joe Simpson, abandoned her to pursue the girl he really liked. But when circumstances bring Amber back to the city, she realizes she can have a second chance—as long as she stays away from Joe, now a successful commercial real estate developer, married to a plastic surgeon, Meredith, to whom he is devoted.

The problem is, Amber can’t stay away from Joe. And Joe finds that it’s increasingly hard for him to ignore Amber, if only because she remembers the boy he was and the man he said he was going to be. Against the surreal backdrop of 2020 and early 2021, the two are slowly drawn to each other and eventually cross the line they’ve been trying not to cross.

And then Joe asks Amber to help him do the unthinkable…

My Review

Bestselling author Laura Lippman (favorite) returns following Seasonal Work: Stories, Sunburn, Lady in the Lake, and Dream Girl, with her latest slow-burn psychological thriller sizzler, PROM MOM —a chilling, dangerous twisty game of cat-and-mouse, and a web of secrets and lies collide, with a jaw-dropping final twist!

Top Thrillers of 2023!

Amber Glass has spent her entire adult life trying to escape her past. In her hometown of Baltimore, MD, Amber was known as the "Prom Mom" who allegedly killed her baby the night of the prom (1997).

However, she blacked out and did not know what had happened. At the hotel, she changed clothes and walked home. Joe never showed up at the hotel to change clothes (or so he says). The premature baby was found dead.

Her date, Joe Simpson, left her to dance with his ex-girlfriend. Amber gets the key to the hotel from him as she has stomach cramps and returns to the hotel they had reserved for the night's events. Joe was dubbed "Cad Dad" and claimed to be innocent.

(2020) Now, twenty-some years later, Amber's stepdad, Ron, dies, and she inherits his house and estate, which is quite large for Amber. She must return to Baltimore to sort out all the details.

(1997) Amber was once a math tutor for Joe (he was suspended from the lacrosse team), the hunky athlete at the high school. He was bummed when his girlfriend broke up with him. Amber and Joe do more than homework, and she becomes pregnant. Her parents nor Joe knows about the pregnancy. They have a deal he will attend prom with Amber.

Things do not go as planned, and before the night is over, Amber has a baby, is charged with manslaughter, and serves time in prison. She was a victim used by a careless boy who wanted only sex and then left to deal with the consequences on her own; her life was destroyed, and his barely disrupted.

Afterward, she attains her education in Florida. She resides in New Orleans and works for Upperline and Miss Margaret at a gallery where she runs an Etsy online store for artists (outsider art and artists from prison). When she returns to Baltimore to prepare Ron's house for sale (her mom died years ago), she sees a commercial real estate space and thinks could she move back and open a gallery here? Is she crazy?

Joe is now a successful commercial real estate developer married to a prominent plastic surgeon, Meredith. They own a huge mansion, but due to the pandemic, his business is failing, and a giant balloon note is coming due on the house. He is desperate and once again turns to Amber to help out. There is also more to Meredith than you know. Will Amber fall for Joe's tricks again?

To further complicate things, Joe is having an affair with Jordan, a real estate agent. Jordan is putting on the pressure.

Amber and Joe reconnect. She opens Amber Glass Gallery. Amber is more sophisticated than in high school (and more calculating). Joe is on the verge of losing his wife, house, and reputation. What comes next is mind-blowing!

From Part I BEFORE: 1997-2020, to Part II AFTER 2020-2021 with a final 1997. Told from Joe, Meredith, and Amber's POV, the three will collide for an explosive ending where nothing is as it appears, and everyone has their respective agenda. Mix in Jordan, a dangerous scheme, a murder, and secrets from the past are unraveled —EXPLOSIVE.

UNPUTDOWNABLE —I read in two sittings. I could not wait to see how this one played out. My nerves were shot. Nothing is as it appears. After a book like this—no sleep. Your mind will be racing. You have no idea where the author is taking you but hang on the wild ride. Totally unexpected!

I LOVED Amber. Joe, Meredith, and Jordan are the bad guys. You will question every character, and your loyalties may change throughout the book. There is blackmail, scheming, secrets, lies, seduction, betrayal, greed, and murder.


Trust me, when you get to 89% (more than one twist) through the END, all the questions will be answered, taking you to the ultimate wickedly satisfying, delicious conclusion. Thank goodness! I was worried there for a while.

In addition, the author sprinkles in the COVID-19 pandemic, masks, vaccines, politics, literary references, class, privilege, and social commentary, among other topics from these periods.

The most intelligent, clever, gripping, twisty, sinister, character-driven, and creative prom crime story you will read! It is jaw-dropping and brilliant. You will be shocked and delighted! As always, Laura is at the TOP OF HER GAME. A huge fan, and this is one of my favorites!

Readers, be patient while reading because you will be shaking your head—it is worth the wait! Get this knockout cat-and-mouse psychological thriller on your TBR list now.

Special thanks to #WilliamMorrow and #NetGalley for a digital advanced reading copy in exchange for an honest review.

@JudithDCollins | #JDCMustReadBooks

Pub Date: July 25, 2023

My Rating: 5 Stars ++

PS. You may have seen the movie Prom Mom and the true-crime story of Prom Mom, Melissa Drexler, in New Jersey; however, Lippman's Prom Mom is much better! If you love well-written, character-driven intelligent thrillers with a twist, PROM MOM is for you! Lippman fans will devour!


“Prom Mom subverts the tabloid headline of its title into something more surprising, transgressive, and sexy. Laura Lippman is an absolute master of plot and timing, and I would follow her anywhere--even to the prom.”

— Emma Straub, New York Times bestselling author of This Time Tomorrow

"I read this acid-dipped beauty in 2 desperate sittings. Pure James M. Cain noir at its delirious best, it moves so fast and so skillfully, you don't fully grasp what it's really saying (about men, women, desire) until its final stunning pages.”

— Megan Abbott, New York Times bestselling author of The Turnout

"Passionate, provocative, deeply chilling and relentlessly paced, Prom Mom is, for my money, an instant classic. With a cast of characters real enough to leap off the page and haunt your dreams—especially my new hero, Amber Glass. A truly unforgettable read."

— Alison Gaylin, USA Today and international bestselling author of The Collective

"Laura Lippman is a seasoned pro at crafting mysteries and crime fiction."

— Time

"Gripping... Lippman works up a slow burn, gently teasing out a game of cat and mouse between Joe and Amber that comes into full focus toward the end of the novel. Readers who persevere will reach a devilishly satisfying conclusion."

— Publishers Weekly

"Buzz starts early for any new Lippman book, and this one already has the cicadas in high gear." — Booklist (starred review)

“A character study of pedestrian evil in the Wegmans-and-Peloton class, fascinating in its heartlessness.”

— Kirkus Reviews

“The gifted Ms. Lippman, in this tale of a talented cad who more or less gets what he deserves, shifts between passages hard-boiled and satirical. Dream Girl offers a healthy dose of suspense and wittily skewers literary life.”

— Wall Street Journal

"Lippman’s sharp and timely thriller is a fast read, one that will surely please her many longtime devotees as well as attract new and enthusiastic fans."

— USA Today on Dream Girl

"Socially conscious (the #MeToo movement makes a decisive entrance into the plot) and packed with humor, ghosts and narrative turns of the screw, Lippman’s Dream Girl is indeed a dream of a novel for suspense lovers and fans of literary satire alike."

— Washington Post

"Positively humming with the vibrancy of a slew of crime-fiction authors during a high-energy drinking session, Dream Girl shimmers with suspense, surprises, wry humor, and an ever-present stream of appreciations for the pleasures, frustrations, and oddities inherent in the life of a writer." — Boston Globe

"Laura Lippman is one of the best novelists working today, period. Seeing her name on the cover of a book is a guarantee of a highly satisfying reading experience...Laura Lippman is a major writer. If you don’t know her, there’s 25 books waiting for you."

— Chicago Tribune

About the Author

Photo by Jan Cobb

Laura Lippman was a reporter for twenty years, including twelve years at The (Baltimore) Sun. She began writing novels while working fulltime and published seven books about “accidental PI” Tess Monaghan before leaving daily journalism in 2001. Her work has been awarded the Edgar ®, the Anthony, the Agatha, the Shamus, the Nero Wolfe, Gumshoe and Barry awards. She also has been nominated for other prizes in the crime fiction field, including the Hammett and the Macavity. She was the first-ever recipient of the Mayor’s Prize for Literary Excellence and the first genre writer recognized as Author of the Year by the Maryland Library Association.

Ms. Lippman grew up in Baltimore and attended city schools through ninth grade. After graduating from Wilde Lake High School in Columbia, Md., Ms. Lippman attended Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism. Her other newspaper jobs included the Waco Tribune-Herald and the San Antonio Light.

Ms. Lippman returned to Baltimore in 1989 and has lived there since. She is the daughter of Theo Lippman Jr., a Sun editorial writer who retired in 1995 but continues to freelance for several newspapers, and Madeline Mabry Lippman, a former Baltimore City school librarian. Her sister, Susan, is a local bookseller. WEBSITE







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