Laura, by Vera Caspary
So, Laura begins:
The city that Sunday morning was quiet. Those millions of New Yorkers who, by need or preference, remain in town over a summer week-end had been crushed spiritless by humidity. Over the island hung a fog that smelled and felt like water in which too many soda-water glasses have been washed. Sitting at my desk, pen in hand, I treasured the sense that among those millions, only I, Waldo Lydecker, was up and doing. The day just past, devoted to shock and misery, had stripped me of sorrow. Now I had gathered strength for the writing of Laura's epitaph. My grief at her sudden and violent death found consolation in the thought that my friend, had she lived to a ripe old age, would have passed into oblivion, whereas the violence of her passing and the genius of her admirer gave her a fair chance at immortality.
NOTICE ANYTHING INTERESTING ABOUT THAT?
(Okay, there's actually a LOT that's interesting about that paragraph—and that last sentence is flat-out FANTASTIC for multiple reasons—but I'm talking about something very specific.)
IT HELPS IF YOU ARE A TWIN PEAKS FAN.
Laura Hunt's public face—like Laura Palmer's—was beautiful and kind and generous, but as the story goes on, you learn that different people knew her in entirely different ways, and the detective who is on the case gets more and more emotionally invested in it... there are more parallels than the names, is what I'm saying. This is not remotely a new connection—the second I Googled it, I discovered that a zillion and six people had already found it—but as I haven't seen the movie and it was the first time I read the book, IT WAS NEW TO ME.
And even beyond all the Twin Peaks stuff, I adored the book. Multiple narrators with entirely distinct voices, police transcripts, a twist I hadn't expected, AND some good zingers about... well, pick a subject. Sexism, gender roles, classism, power dynamics, on and on. I pegged the killer early on, as well as the motive, but that actually made it even better? Adding Bedelia to my TBR list FOR SURE.