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Wilde Lake: A Novel by Laura Lippman (Review #2)

Reviewed by Laurie Weatherlow

Wilde LakeThe Brant family are like Royalty in Columbia, Maryland in the early 1970’s. Andrew Jackson Brant is a state attorney who became “famous” when he tried a murder case and won without the presence of a body. He is raising two children on his own in the newly formed town of Columbia on Wilde Lake. His son AJ was eight when his daughter Luisa (Lu) was born and seven days later his wife Adele died. He relies on his housekeeper, Teensy, to perform the role of mother and homemaker.

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AJ Brant is a shining light in his high school. When he was eighteen there was an accident on the night he graduated from high school. He escaped with a broken arm, but another man lost his life. Was he innocent or guilty? Did his father’s name save him and his friends from further inquiry?

We fast forward to 2015 and Lu Brant has just been elected the first female state’s attorney of Howard County Maryland. She has recently been widowed with twins to care for. Lu returns home to Wilde Lake in Columbia to live with her father and Teensy who help care for the twins while she works. Her first case as state attorney is a murder where a woman is beaten to death in her apartment and a homeless man is accused. There are few murders in Hamilton County and Lou is eager to show her worth and prosecute him. Read the rest of this entry »

Wilde Lake: A Novel by Laura Lippman

Reviewed by Caryn St. Clair

Wilde LakeWilde Lake is a modern day retelling of An American Tragedy. Lippman gives us a family of characters to follow from the mother’s parent’s home to a model community built to give people of all walks of life a chance to live the American dream. The schools were the “open grade” concept, the houses were built around the man made Wilde Lake and everywhere was the sense that the place was “special.” But as with most utopias, there is the perception and the reality. Behind closed doors families still struggle with buried secrets, divisions in communities still develop and kids still party-often with devastating consequences.

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Lippman uses time shifts to tell the story of the Brandt family. As it opens, Lu has just won the election for County Prosecutor and is reminiscing about her childhood. We quickly learn that for her entire childhood it was just her dad and older brother. Her mother had died shortly after Lu’s birth. We also learn that the night that her brother AJ graduated from high school the kids had gathered at Wilde Lake per tradition but the evening ended in tragedy. What happened that night, what caused those events to unfold come out slowly throughout the book as Lu is preparing to prosecute her first big murder trial since winning the election. All along readers will sense that there is somehow a connection between Lu’s case and the past but it isn’t until very near the end that all is revealed. When all is said and done, Lu realizes that some things she has always believed to be true, even about her own family are not at all as she believed.

This is an interesting book. First, the author shifts in time between Lu’s childhood and the present while also shifting voice from first person to third person. This is a little unsettling to begin with but in the end works. The book is beautifully written language wise, but is slow to develop. Painfully slow in places to the extent that by the time some plot threads are resolved, as a reader I was beyond caring. Aside from the pacing, the one flaw I found is that none of the characters are sympathetic. It is hard for me to stick with a book if I truly dislike all of the characters, which was the case. What kept me reading, and is to me the strongest point in the book, is the puzzle of how the present day murder case is tied to the past-specifically to the graduation party that happens in the beginning of the book. Readers know there is a connection, but the how is a long time in coming.

I feel that readers who generally like Lippman’s work will be pleased with Wilde Lake along with readers who like books centered around flawed characters and or dysfunctional families. Readers looking for a well-plotted suspense novel or crime fiction probably will be left wanting.

Hush Hush by Laura Lippman (Review #2)

Reviewed by Vickie Dailey
Hush Hush
Melisandre Dawes has done the unthinkable and allowed her child to die in a hot car while she waited on shore of the river. Fast-forward 10 years and Melisandre Dawes has decided to make a documentary of her life with the help of Harmony Burns. She also hopes to re-enter the lives of her two teenage daughters. Read the rest of this entry »

Hush Hush by Laura Lippman

Hush HushReviewed by Caryn St. Clair

After taking a break from the Tess Monaghan books to write several stand -a -lone novels, Lippman returns to Tess for a twelfth book in <em>Hush Hush</em>.  The story picks up three years after readers last saw Tess, now a mother of a three year old daughter.  Tess struggles with motherhood,  feeling like she doesn’t have the parenting instincts, yet in constant awe of her daughter. She also struggles with her relationship with Crow, Carla Scout’s father and Tess’s long time lover. Despite the bumps in her personal life Tess is ready and willing to take on a difficult case, but that too becomes a struggle as the details of the client’s past unfold.

Twelve years ago Melisandre Harris Dawes drove her infant daughter to the riverside, parked her car, rolled up the windows and got out to sit and wait while her baby girl cooked to death. She was acquitted due to insanity and sent to a hospital. Now she is out, ready to film a documentary about her  case and begin a relationship with her two teenage daughters.  Her former husband has remarried and now has an infant son.  While he initially agrees to let the girls decided whether to see their mom or not, he changes his mind and decides to prevent it. And then he is found dead at the couple’s former home and once again Melisandre is a suspect in a murder case. Sandy, Tess’s partner is hired by Melisandre’s attorney to find evidence to prove her innocence.

This book is less like the Tess Monaghan, newspaper reporter and more like her stand-a-lone books steeped in social issues. For one thing, there is not a likeable character among the group. And I’m including the series regulars in that too. By half way through the book I did not like Tess much anymore either.  The plot is drawn out with several subplots tied into it. It becomes more of a character story and a commentary on married life and parenthood at times as well. But the crux of the case-was Melisandre crazy when she left her baby to die in the hot car or not, and is she sane now is a compelling one played out across the country every week.

If fans of Tess can stand her being bogged down in motherhood and a stagnated relationship, the plot of  <em>Hush Hush</em> will keep you reading. If not, then this might be a DID NOT FINISH for them.

After I’m Gone by Laura Lippman (Review #2)

After I'm GoneReviewed by Dianne Woodman

Laura Lippman has written an engaging mystery that is as much about unraveling a puzzling crime as it is about probing into the unexpected repercussions faced by individuals after the abrupt disappearance of a friend and loved one.

After I’m Gone begins July 4, 1976. Felix Brewer, a racketeer, has made the decision to jump bail so that he can avoid serving time in prison. He enlists the help of his stripper girlfriend, Julie Saxony, who is disappointed when he refuses to take her with him. Felix also leaves behind his wife, three young daughters, and close associates. Lives are changed forever because of Felix’s rash decision. Read the rest of this entry »

After I’m Gone by Laura Lippman

After I'm GoneReviewed by Vickie Dailey

What happens to those left behind when a man disappears?

Laura Lippman weaves a compelling story through the viewpoints of those left behind -the man’s wife, daughters and his mistress.

A retired detective decides to open the cold case of Julie Saxony’s murder. As he delves into the past we’re given snippets of the story through the various charcaters in the book – Bambi the wife, laura, rachel and Michelle the daughters. Read the rest of this entry »

And When She Was Good: A Novel
by Laura Lippman (Review #2)

And When She Was Good Reviewed by Julie Moderson

OMG how did I not know about books by Laura Lippman? I am so impressed with her writing that I plan to go look for all of her books.

And When She Was Good is a very intense book about Heloise Lewis. She starts out in a rotten relationship and is turning tricks on the side for her boyfriend who is a drug addict. Young Heloise meets up with a pimp who puts her up in a house and she dresses and acts the part but something happens and she becomes a madam that is extremely successful. Who is being hurt by prostitution is a question that you hear asked in the story and you ask yourself as well. Read the rest of this entry »

And When She Was Good by Laura Lippman

Reviewed by Elizabeth Barbarick

And When She was GoodWhat is the book about?

Follow Helen/Heloise from age 15 to 37, bouncing back and forth from present to present time reflecting on how she became a young worker in the sex industry during her twenties. You’ll understand and see how she went from being a call girl to a madam who overlooks young call girls. You’ll see how Heloise deals with her internal issues and her social problems that resulted her making less desirable choices and professions. Read the rest of this entry »

The Most Dangerous Thing by Laura Lippman (Review #2)

The Most Dangerous Thing Reviewed by Caryn St. Clair

Lippman really has two distinct audiences for her writing. There are the fans of her Tess Monaghan mystery series, and then the fans of her various works of fiction which take on the human psyche on various levels. Certainly there are people who read both, but most came to know Lippman from one side or the other. The Most Dangerous Thing comes as close as any to bridging the two sides.

On one side The Most Dangerous Thing is a coming of age book. On the other hand, there is every bit as much of a mystery in this as any of Lippman’s Tess Monaghan books. Five children, girls Gwen and Mickey, plus the three Halloran brothers Sean, Tim and (Go-Go) Gordon, become fast friends and spend great amounts of time roaming the woods near their homes virtually unsupervised. In their wanderings, they discover an old cabin, long ago abandoned by the owner but now used by a mysterious black man who they promptly nickname “Chicken George.” Any reader of this sort of books knows that there is going to be something that happens in that woods involving either the cabin or the man that will end up being a secret shared into adulthood. Indeed that is just what happens. The children go on with their lives, grow up and more or less forget about the incident, until Gwen returns to the town to care for her father who is convalescing from a fall. She runs into Sean who tells her Go-Go committed suicide. Gordon’s death stirs up memories of the past and eventually, readers are let in on the “secret.” Read the rest of this entry »

The Most Dangerous Thing by Laura Lippman

Reviewed by Teri Davis

Have you ever felt guilty about something that happened in your teen years? Could the guilt that you feel actually affect the choices that you make and your success in your adult life? Do you ever get over it?

A generation ago, life was different. Kids could actually explore in nearbywoods without parents being worried. It was a part of life, growing up, exploring, and coming home when your mom called you for

The Most Dangerous Thing is about a group of children who grew up together exploring their neighborhood as close friends. There were three brothers, Tim, Sean, and Gordon (Go-Go) Halloran. Gwen who lived at the edge of the woods who seemed to have the perfect parents and Mickey who lived in a single family home with a much younger little brother and her mom’s boyfriend.

The five spent much of their summer time in the woods visiting a black man who lived in a shack in the woods that only seamed to value his guitar. Gwen especially would take food from her house to give to Chicken George. They frequently spent time at his shack with a few chickens and an unusual friendship including this vagabond.

The story revolves about Gwen who is now spending her nights at her father’s house helping him since his recent fall. While she is there, Go-Go is in a car accident that kills him. It appears that he didn’t apply the brake and that he purposely ran the car into a head-on collision. As the surviving four reunite, they each question themselves as well as the accident. Did Go-Go feel responsible for Chicken George and what happened? What did happen? Read the rest of this entry »