Every Secret Thing : A Novel by Laura Lippman
From Publishers Weekly
With this engrossing mystery/suspense stand-alone novel, Lippman, winner of the Edgar, Shamus and Agatha awards for her series featuring likable heroine Tess Monaghan (Baltimore Blues; Charm City; The Last Place) solidifies her position in the upper tier of today's suspense novelists. Two 11-year-old children-good girl Alice Manning and bad girl Ronnie Fuller-wander homeward in Baltimore after being kicked out of a friend's pool party. They discover a baby in an unattended carriage by the front door of a house and steal it away. The reader watches in horror, knowing what will come next. The baby dies, and Alice and Ronnie are imprisoned for seven years. The mystery involves which girl did the killing, and which was the dupe. After release from prison, their blighted lives move inexorably toward further horror and tragedy. Lippman slowly relinquishes the facts of her story, building suspense as she reveals the past. Her well-honed prose is particularly suited to descriptions that impart more than just appearances: "Holly was one of those people who seemed to be put together with higher quality parts than everyone else"; "...there was something menacing in the very fineness of his bones, as if a bigger boy had been boiled down until all that remained was this concentrated bit of rage and bile." With this book, much darker than any in her past series, Lippman shows she is an author willing to take risks in both writing and storytelling. Her deft handling of this disturbing material is sure to increase the breadth of her readership.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
Excellent Stand-Alone Mystery, September 16, 2003
from Trinidad, CO USA
I just finished Laura Lippman's latest (how's that for alliteration?) and what a stunner! _Every Secret Thing_ is a stand-alone novel, not part of the Tess Monaghan series, and it's more of a "portrait of a community" sort of a book than an outright mystery, although it certainly has a strong mystery driving the plot. I'd hesitate to say "breakout book" because I think she broke out long ago, but as I read, I couldn't help but compare the experience to that of reading Dennis Lehane's _Mystic River_, which I still firmly believe is one of the best American books of the last ten years. And I do think that _Every Secret Thing_ is on par with that book. The story is narrated from multiple viewpoints, including those of a pair of now teenage girls, just released from juvenile detention after serving seven-year sentences for their parts in the kidnapping and death of a baby, the granddaughter of a locally-famous black judge. Ronnie Fuller and Alice Manning have had their lives irrevocably changed, and when another child of mixed race disappears soon after their return home, the girls become prime suspects, after their names are leaked to the press and to the police. At first, we feel sympathetic toward poor Alice, the "good" girl whose life was ruined by the inexplicable actions of the "bad" Ronnie, but as the story goes on, our sympathies are drawn more and more to Ronnie as the secrets of what happened seven years before, and what is happening now, are revealed. Set in Baltimore, the story is as much about developing character studies of the girls, their families, the police, the press, and so forth, as it is about solving the mystery. The book also presents a portrait of the racism inherent in society, not just black vs. white, but rich vs. poor, and so on. There are great passages about the struggles faced by homicide detective Nancy Porter, who found the dead baby many years ago and who is now assigned to the new investigation, that are worthy of _Homicide: Life on the Street_ or _The Wire_. Lippman draws deft portraits of both Sharon Kerpelman, the public defender who feels she failed Alice in the earlier case, and Mira Jenkins, the reporter who sees this story as her chance to "move downtown." And Cynthia Barnes, the mother of the murdered baby, is a fully-shaded character who sees the possibility to get some sort of revenge on the girls, who she feels should have been tried as adults. This is a gripping story, full of tension and emotion. It has moments of sadness and moments of humor. It's a great book by a great writer and I'd be surprised if it isn't nominated for the major awards in the field this year. Very highly recommended.