The Most Dangerous Thing by Laura Lippman
Morrow • $25.99 • ISBN 9780061706516
on sale August 23, 2011
In general, I prefer stand-alone suspense novels to series, so I was thrilled to learn that Lippman has a September book coming out that is indeed a stand alone—and not part of her series about Baltimore PI Tess Monaghan.
The Most Dangerous Thing alternates between the present and the 1970s. It's about five childhood friends who come together again after one of their group dies in a car accident . . . and a secret comes out.
Here's an early scene from the friend's funeral:
Gwen was spared funerals as a child and accepted this practice, as she accepted so many of her parents' practices, as the inarguably right thing to do. Certainly, it never occurred to her to bring Annabelle to Go-Go's visitation, and she is shocked to see how many young children are here. More disturbing, they are gathered around the open casket, inspecting Go-Go with a respectful but palpable excitement. A dead person! This is what a dead person looks like! In the fact of their bravery, how can Gwen not come forward and look as well?
A dead person this may well be, but it is not the boy she remembers and not only because he is thirty years older than the Go-Go who lives in her memory. This person is too still, his features too composed. Go-Go was never still.
"Gwen." Doris Halloran holds her hands tightly, peers into her face, as if nearsighted. "Pretty little Gwen. You look wonderful."
She does? She doesn't feel as if she looks wonderful. True, she is thin. She has no appetite as of late. But she is pretty sure that the lack of food has made her face gaunt, her hair dull and dry. Then again, maybe it's all relative. She looks better than Go-Go, for example. And better than Mrs. Halloran, whose face is white and puffy in a way that cannot be explained by mere grieving. Her eyes are like little raisins deep in an uncooked loaf, her mouth ringed by wrinkles.
I'd Know You Anywhere by Laura Lippman
William Morrow • $14.99 • ISBN 9780062070753
paperback on sale May 3, 2011 • hardcover available now
I'd Know You Anywhere is about a 38-year-woman, Eliza Benedict, who was kidnapped when she was 15. Her kidnapper killed a handful of other girls, and Eliza was his only victim who survived. The mystery in the novel is the "why"—why was Eliza allowed to live? The action alternates between the present, where the killer is on death row and set to be executed, and the past, when he took Eliza. In the present—seemingly out of the blue—he has contacted Eliza and wants to explain what happened. As you might imagine, his presence turns her life upside down. . .
It's been said before and I'll say it again: Lippman is not just a great suspense writer, but she is a great writer. When the novel first came out in August, reviewer Susan Schwartzman called it a "compelling and provocative psychological thriller." I wanted to remind you of the novel again now because it comes out in paperback in two weeks. Here's an excerpt to pique your interest:
Her mouth freed, she thought for a moment about screaming her head off but found she could not make the sounds come. She was too frightened, too scared. His hands lingered near her throat. She thought about the mound of dirt where she had first seen the man, working with his shovel. He had not said, explicitly, what he had done, but she knew. He was capable of killing someone. He had done it. Elizabeth decided in that moment that she would do whatever was necessary to survive. She would endure whatever plans he had for her, as long as she was allowed to live.
"What's your name?" she whispered.
"Walter," he said. "I think sometimes I should shorten it to Walt. What do you think?"
She was terrified that there was a right answer, and she wouldn't give it. "Both are nice."