Testing the limits of loyalty
In a Baltimore suburb built on dreams of success, three girls play out a variation of Benjamin Franklin's adage, an epigraph to this engaging psychological thriller: three can keep a secret, if two are dead. As To the Power of Three opens, an unidentified high-school senior forgoes fashion in favor of a more practical method of carrying a gun. An hour later, in a locked bathroom, one girl is dead, one is critically injured and one is lying. What appears at first to be the truth behind this horrific tragedy masks what really happened in the bathroom, and among the three girls who have been friends for 10 years: Kat, sweet and smart, the daughter of a man who's living his thwarted dreams through his only child. Perri, an aspiring actress who decides to expose the truth about her lifelong friend. Josie, the athlete, who came to the trio late and never feels certain of her position in the friendship triangle. Laura Lippman is a Baltimore resident and former journalist whose previous books, including her Tess Monaghan series, have won every major mystery award. Her experience as a reporter for The Baltimore Sun provided valuable insight into the lives of policemen, criminals and victims. In To the Power of Three, she tells the story of every community's nightmare. But how much of the story is true? Through the eyes of several narrators students, teachers, parents and Baltimore County police sergeant Harold Lenhardt readers see pieces of the puzzle, including snapshots of the girls' developing friendship from their third-grade meeting through its implosion. But like Sgt. Lenhardt, who appeared in Lippman's thought-provoking Every Secret Thing, readers must wait for the final clue a glimpse of a young woman's anger to see the full picture. Lippman knows what Baltimore County looks like. She knows what matters to its teenagers, and how insider kids torture the outsiders. And just as Lippman knows the importance of the right shoes, especially to the girl who can't afford hundred-dollar sandals, she clearly also remembers how it feels to walk in them. To the Power of Three lets readers walk that same treacherous path. Leslie Budewitz lives in Montana and is a legal consultant for writers.