05 January 2010

What the Dead Know


From the dust jacket:

Thirty years ago two sisters disappeared from a shopping mall. Their bodies were never found and those familiar with the case have always been tortured by these questions: How do you kidnap two girls? Who—or what—could have lured the two sisters away from a busy mall on a Saturday afternoon without leaving behind a single clue or witness?
Now a clearly disoriented woman involved in a rush-hour hit-and-run claims to be the younger of the long-gone Bethany sisters. But her involuntary admission and subsequent attempt to stonewall investigators only deepens the mystery. Where has she been? Why has she waited so long to come forward? Could her abductor truly be a beloved Baltimore cop? There isn't a shred of evidence to support her story, and every lead she gives the police seems to be another dead end—a dying, incoherent man, a razed house, a missing grave, and a family that disintegrated long ago, torn apart not only by the crime but by the fissures the tragedy revealed in what appeared to be the perfect household.
In a story that moves back and forth across the decades, there is only one person who dares to be skeptical of a woman who wants to claim the identity of one Bethany sister without revealing the fate of the other. Will he be able to discover the truth?

This was a really good book! Amazon recommended it to me because I liked In the Woods by Tana French. I highly recommend this if you like mysteries. Also, it is set in Baltimore and there are lots of references to Northern Virginia so you folks back home would probably enjoy it, too.

I liked how the author revealed critical facts late in the plot rather than laying everything out on the table in the very first chapter. And I also liked the fact that even though I thought I had the whole plot figured out, I was wrong! Not to sound cocky, but I can usually figure out these mystery novels (the only bad thing about In the Woods was the fact that I figured out the present-day murder) but this time I didn't get it right.

I am creepily fascinated by the idea of grief. By what keeps a person going after a horrible tragedy. After a horrible, Nancy Grace level tragedy. What happens to a marriage? To a person who loses everything in an instant? So that part of the story, the part dealing with the parents of "the Bethany sisters" in the days, months, years following their daughters' disappearance, that part appealed to me. As a parent, some of it was painful to read, but it was still fascinating.

So I liked it. I am terrible at reviewing books, so I wish Elizabeth would read it and review it for me! Hint, hint.

4 comments:

Retainer Girl said...

After I saw that you were reading it, I put it on my to-read list. It sounds really good! (You did a good review too.)

Anneli said...

Erin, I love Laura Lippman -- all of her books are great. I thought you did a wonderful job describing it!

girlysmack said...

Thanks, Anneli! I really liked this book so I was thrilled to see a whole shelf of her books at the library. I had never heard of her before!

Elizabeth said...

I bought her book because I was so enamored of David Simon & George Pelecanos. The three of them are really tight & I wanted to see how her writing stacked up to theirs. Aside: I saw the three of them at a panel @ Festival of the Book a few years ago & they were all really cool people. Now I need to read it!