Taking advantage of London University English lecturer Loretta Lawson's better nature and the guilt-inducing time of year, a former member of Loretta's consciousness-raising group throws herself on Loretta's mercy to stay in Loretta's flat over the Christmas holiday. Loretta last saw Sandy Neill five years ago when the group broke up, but the assertive and prickly Sandy bamboozles her way onto Loretta's sofa with a sad tale of frozen water pipes and a flooded flat.
When Sandy dies in a very odd automobile accident on New Year's Eve, Loretta begins to discover inconsistencies in the tale Sandy spun -- and that of the new widower, Sandy's estranged husband Tom. What was really going on in the life of Sandy, a one-time social worker? Loretta is more and more stunned as she digs into Sandy's life. And was Sandy's death an accident, as the coroner thinks, or something worse?
I picked up Don't Leave Me This Way just as soon as I finished the previous Loretta Lawson mystery novel. I've enjoyed Joan Smith's two previous Loretta Lawson books, the debut A Masculine Ending and the sequel Why Aren't They Screaming?. I've already ordered the last two books in the series, What Men Say and Full Stop, although I'm sorry I didn't do so before I finished Don't Leave Me This Way so that I could have immediately launched into it. The novels are cleverly written, with a heroine you'd love to befriend. In each of them, the resolution comes as a total shock.
What, O what shall I do when I come to the end of the series? The last book in the Loretta Lawson series was released in 1995. If Smith hasn't penned another one in nearly 20 years, she's unlikely to do so now. I guess I'll have to read her nonfiction work, Misogynies, but it's cold comfort and will hardly assuage my Loretta Lawson craving.