I once caught a student cheating. She had turned in a project that was word-for-word identical to two of her friends’. The other two girls were suitably remorseful, but this girl met me in the hallway with a defiant thrust to her chin. When I called her mother and relayed what had happened, her mother’s casual response was, and I quote, “I cheated in high school, and I turned out fine.”
Perhaps this is why plagiarism so deeply offends me: the brazenness of it, and the blasé acceptance with which our culture meets it. Did the student think I wouldn’t notice? That I was so lackadaisical a grader that I wouldn’t realize I was reading the same thing three times? Did her mother really think teaching her daughter she can claim the work of others with impunity was good parenting? Is this the truth we are left with, that you can lie, and cheat, and steal, and still “turn out fine”?
That student’s mother wouldn’t like Three-Martini Lunch. I doubt someone who cares so little about academic integrity spends much time reading, and furthermore, a person who can’t grasp the wrongness of stealing something as abstract as words won’t find the book’s central conflict terribly compelling. Rindell sets her sophomore novel in the high-stakes world of 1950s publishing houses, a world her characters are desperate to break into, each in his own way. Some more desperate than others.
I don’t want to give too much away here. My reading experience felt like a breathless sprint around continuous blind corners, and I would hate to rob anyone of that. I will say that Rindell’s writing is, for me, the perfect balance of plot momentum and character development. All three characters who take turns narrating became 100% real to me, and somehow Rindell is able to achieve that without ever slowing her pace. I don’t know how the hell she does it. If I did, I’d bottle that secret sauce and sell it to novelists everywhere for $4.99 a pop.
With regards to GP Putnam’s Sons and NetGalley for the advance copy. On sale April 5!