The bestselling 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 eighteen, 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.
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My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Wilde Lake by Laura Lippman is a 2016 William Morrow publication.
One- part family saga, one- part mystery-
Luisa “Lu” Brant, a newly elected state’s attorney is drawn into a case that on the surface isn’t all that sexy. A homeless man kills a woman, but the case suddenly thrusts Lu back in time- to 1980- when an incident at Wilde Lake, involving her brother, one that may have come back to haunt them all.
This story leans more towards buried secrets, family entanglements, and relationships, than on the murder mystery at the center of it all. There is a nostalgic mood interwoven with a feeling of dread, as the past catches up with the present.
The writing is exceptional, hypnotic almost, and I found myself deeply involved in the story, especially the parts where Lu discusses her childhood and her relationship with her father and brother.
Lu’s narrative is absorbing, to say the least, but occasionally, I was able to shake free from her spell long enough to question why Lippman was spending so much time in Lu's past when she should be connecting the dots of the murder case.
But I was so caught up in the tale, the emphasis on the past didn't really try my patience; however, even if the mystery is a slow burn, the payoff is well worth it in the end.
I got a little more than I bargained for with this one. It is more literary in nature than the standard mystery or Legal Thriller, and it certainly kept me rooted to the pages from beginning to end! A solid effort by this veteran author!
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