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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.

As Lu continues her investigation into the murder, she uncovers more than she bargains for. What does the murder that her father tried so many years ago and AJ’s accident have to do with the homeless man and the murder that was just committed?

Laura Lippman’s writing alternates between the present and the past. However, the past does not always follow a chronological order. It can be confusing at times. I felt her characters were developed, but I did not get to know them well. I would have liked a little more feeling from them; depth. The protagonist is a very cold person and perhaps that is because of her life circumstances. Do people become what they are raised to be or do they become who is inside them from the beginning?

I enjoyed Wilde Lake and uncovering the Brant family history and secrets. The novel is not a nail bitter or a thriller; really not suspenseful as far as the plot goes, but enjoyable. The fragments of all three stories intertwine and connect to produce a startling conclusion. Would Louisa and the Brant family have been better off not knowing the truth? Does the past always creep up on you when you least expect it?

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