Welcome to Murder by the Book's blog about what we've read recently. You can find our website at www.mbtb.com.

Friday, December 5, 2008

12 Best for 2008 - What the Dead Know, by Laura Lippman ($7.99)

[This is the second of Carolyn's picks for the year. Here is her review.]

Lippman's stand-alone novels, for example, To the Power of Three, have often been more powerful than her always enjoyable Tess Monaghan series. This novel, however, is in a league all its own, a cagey impostor story that keeps the reader guessing until the very end of the book. Of course, when the revelation comes, it makes perfect sense and has been hiding all the time in plain sight.

When a woman involved in a highway accident is questioned, she eventually claims to be Heather Bethany, one of two teenage sisters last seen at a mall in 1975. OK, but where's she been and why did they disappear? Her story is layered and indistinct, told in several different time periods and always with exceptional detail. We find out what happened to their parents in their grief following the sisters� disappearance, what the girls� own history and relationship were like, how they spent their last known day together, and how furiously their case was investigated � all are seamlessly presented without a wasted word. All of the characters, from their mother to the retired policeman who tried heroically to find them, are fully formed and believable. This exceptional work also easily earned Carolyn's gold star. (For another book with similar qualities, try Carol O'Connells The Judas Child.)

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