Published by William Morrow ISBN 9780062083470
Hardcover, $26.99, 368 pages
Laura Lippman writes mystery novels that are not only page-turners, they are thought-provoking and very well written. Her latest stand-alone novel is Wilde Lake, set in Baltimore as most of her books are.
Lu Brant has just been elected the first female state's attorney in Howard County. She is a single mother of eight-year-old twins, Justin and Penelope, after her wealthy husband died of heart attack. Lu moved back to her childhood home to live with her father, a former state's attorney.
The story has two time settings- the present day and when Lu was an eight-year-old girl. Lu's mother died one week after Lu was born, so she never knew her mother. Her brother AJ is eight years older, and the golden boy at his high school.
As AJ and his friends were celebrating their upcoming high school graduation, three brothers crashed the party and accused AJ's friend of ruining their sister. A fight broke out, one young man died and AJ's friend was seriously injured.
In the present, Lu is proceeding to prosecute the murder of a woman in her apartment. A homeless man is accused of the brutal crime and as the investigation proceeds, the case looks like a slam-dunk for Lu until she digs deeper and finds a connection to an old incident.
A woman has also come to Lu claiming that she has information about a famous murder conviction Lu's father had obtained thirty years ago. The woman said that she was the convicted man's alibi but Lu's father ignored her all those years ago.
Lippman has said that this story was inspired by Harper Lee's To Kill A Mockingbird. It does have several of the same elements- a young girl worships her honorable lawyer father, a trial that envelops the entire town- and adds many more intriguing ones.
Lippman brings her characteristic thoughtfulness to the societal change in attitudes about sex and rape over the last thirty years. She also unravels many secrets in the Brant family and among AJ and his group of high school friends. I love a book that keeps me guessing, and Wilde Lake certainly did that. I actually gasped at one sad event late in the book that I didn't see coming.
One thing Lippman excels at is ending the chapter on a sentence that forces you to keep reading, like this one:
"Besides, if Fred wanted to make it personal, there were better, juicer-truer-rumors to spread. He just didn't know where to look."How can you stop reading there?
The characters in Wilde Lake are fascinating too. From Lu to her father to her brother to even less important ones like AJ's friends Bash and Noel and Teensy, the Brant's housekeeper, all are fully realized people.
Wilde Lake is a literary mystery that will keep the reader guessing as she is compulsively turning the pages. It is a worthy homage to To Kill A Mockingbird, but one that stands on its own as a terrific story. I highly recommend it.
Thanks to TLC Tours for putting me on Laura Lippman's tour. The rest of her stops are here:
Tuesday, May 3rd: Reading Reality
Wednesday, May 4rd: she treads softly
Friday, May 6th: A Bookworm’s World
Monday, May 9th: No More Grumpy Bookseller
Tuesday, May 10th: Cerebral Girl in a Redneck World
Wednesday, May 11th: Jenn’s Bookshelves
Thursday, May 12th: bookchickdi
Friday, May 13th: 5 Minutes For Books
Monday, May 16th: Back Porchervations
Tuesday, May 17th: From the TBR Pile
Thursday, May 19th: Luxury Reading