The New York Times best-selling author of the acclaimed standalones After I'm Gone, I'd Know You Anywhere, and What the Dead Know challenges our notions of memory, loyalty, responsibility, and justice in this evocative and psychologically complex story about a long-ago death that still haunts a family.
Luisa "Lu" Brant is the newly elected - and first female - state's attorney of Howard County, Maryland, a job in which her widower father famously served. Fiercely intelligent and ambitious, she sees an opportunity to make her name by trying a mentally disturbed drifter accused of beating a woman to death in her home. It's not the kind of case that makes headlines, but peaceful Howard County doesn't see many homicides.
As Lu prepares for the trial, the case dredges up painful memories, reminding her small but tight-knit family of the night when her brother, AJ, saved his best friend at the cost of another man's life. Only 18, AJ was cleared by a grand jury. Now Lu wonders if the events of 1980 happened as she remembers them. What details might have been withheld from her when she was a child?
The more she learns about the case, the more questions arise. What does it mean to be a man or woman of one's times? Why do we ask our heroes of the past to conform to the present's standards? Is that fair? Is it right? Propelled into the past, she discovers that the legal system, the bedrock of her entire life, does not have all the answers. Lu realizes that even if she could learn the whole truth, she probably wouldn't want to.
©2016 Laura Lippman (P)2016 HarperCollins Publishers
I am or was a big Laura Lippmann fan and so I kept waiting for this book to get better. It never did. Narrators cooed and clucked, plot line dragged along the bottom of the lake and heroine made me dream of sending her to a Nancy Drew book.
Laura Lippman is one of my favorite contemporary authors and this story is a perfect example as to why. My only complaint is that while I prefer stories told in the first person, this story bounces back and forth between first and third person narrative. At first, I thought it was to differentiate between the timelines of Lu as a child and Lu as an adult, but as the book progressed, that didn't hold up. All in all, I still enjoyed the story. I might even say that this is the best one yet.
I kept hoping I would start enjoying the book, but it never happened. It had way too many characters, most of whom still remained unexplored and untethered even at the end. None of the characters were likable, especially not the protagonist, an uncaring, nasty, win at all costs type. Most of the way through the book I wondered who it was that was actually going to care enough to solve the crime---she showed no interest in doing it. When in the last 20 percent or so of the text she all of a sudden seemed to care about such things, it did not go with her personality.
A number of minor points (such as her inability to remember names) were brought up again and again, in exactly the same language. It seemed as though the author had marked several places where the topic could go, then forgot to clean up her work as she completed the book. The whole thing could have used a good editor.
I'm part of that first generation of kids who grew up in Columbia, back when it was surrounded by farmland and not just another suburb. The author, as always, has a fine eye for capturing the nuances of local culture and history, but the narrator makes several missteps in how she pronounces place names - and unfortunately those took me right out of the story. A Columbia native would know that Catonsville is pronounced like "Kate" and not "cat" for example. Still, overall a nice nostalgic listen for me.
it started a little slow, but picked up quickly. The story kept me waiting for the next reveal. I wouldnguess that if you figure out the twists, then the story isnt as good. I didnt have time to ponder it in between listens, so I was sufficiently surprised by a few things.
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