Tuesday, April 24, 2007

"Every Secret Thing" - Laura Lippman

I was reading an article about "The Wire" and discovered that series creator David Simon's wife, Laura Lippman, was a writer of mysteries set in Baltimore. Since becoming a fanatic regarding the show and slightly addled and obssessed about all things Baltimore I decided to check her out.

I quickly learned she has a series detective character and a batch of standalone books. The latter are more concerned with the psychology of people involved in tragic, violent events. I went for one of the second group.

"Every Secret Thing" opens with two mismatched young girls who are not really friends being kicked out of a birthday party. On their way home they find a seemingly abandoned baby in a carriage. The next thing the reader knows is that the baby is dead and the girls are convicted of her death.

Seven years later the girls are released from juvenile incarceration and returned to their families in Baltimore. Soon their are new incidents involving young children being temporarily taken from their mothers. Eventually all the people involved in the past murder begin to converge around each other again.

There are the two girls, the deliberately bohemian mother of one of them, their public defender, the cop who discovered the body of the dead girl and the victim's politically connected mother and a reporter. Soon all are weaving around each other trying face the past or their inability to do so.

The book's not really a mystery. It's similar to Ruth Rendell's Barbara Vine books. Lippman's opening up the minds of two broken young women and the people who's lives they changed. There actually is a question of what really happened on that day the baby was found but it's important only as to unveil the deepest nature of the girls.

"Every Secret Thing" is a despairing book with damaged characters unable to staunch the flow from their wounds. There's nothing happy here and nothing heroic. There is a good book about wounded minds and the weight of murder and revenge.

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