Publisher: William Morrow
Date of publication: May 2016
Luisa “Lu” Brant is the newly elected 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 burnish her reputation by trying a homeless man accused of beating a woman to death in her home. It’s not the kind of case that makes national 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 at the time, AJ was found to have acted in self-defense. Now Lu wonders if the events of 1980 happened as she remembers them. Long discrete memories begin to fit together, revealing connections and secrets that Lu never suspected.
The more she learns about her new case, the more questions arise about the past. Why was her brother’s friend attacked? Who was the true victim? Lu discovers that the legal system, the bedrock of her entire life, can no longer provide comfort or even reliable answers. If there is such a thing as the whole truth, Lu realizes—possibly too late—that she would be better off not knowing what it is.
Wilde Lake is is the latest stand alone by Laura Lippman. Lu has just been elected as state's attorney for her county. As she prepares for her first murder case while in office, she reflects back on her time growing up with her father and brother in Columbia, Maryland. I have read other books by Ms. Lippman and have really enjoyed them, so I was eager to read this latest stand alone. While I liked the overall story, it also ended up being a bit disappointing for me as well. I think I was expecting more of a thriller and that isn't really what I got. The story is told in dual time-lines: the past told by Lu and the present told in present third person. I'm not too sure that the constant change in tenses worked for me. The changes seemed awkward and didn't flow well.
I ended up connecting most with the parts about Lu's childhood and the things that she remembered about growing up. I really enjoyed those passages in the book. The present murder case she was working on was not very interesting. Ultimately, the two story-lines converge to make sense, but it just took too long to get there. Once it became clear what was going on, I was bored with it and really didn't care. I also found the reveal at the end just kind of so-so for the amount of time it took to get to the point. There were a few twists in the end, but not spectacular enough for me to love the book.
The story definitely make you think about how the stories we retell about our childhood are actually true or not. Are we telling the truth or just the truth that we have told ourselves over and over? While not my favorite book by this author, I do recommend giving it a try.
About Laura Lippman
Since Laura Lippman’s debut, she has won multiple awards and critical acclaim for provocative, timely crime novels set in her beloved hometown of Baltimore. Now a perennial New York Times bestselling author, she lives in Baltimore and New Orleans with her family.
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