A Best Novel nominee for the 2017 Anthony Award
An African-American man accused of rape by a humiliated girl. A vengeful father. A courageous attorney. A worshipful daughter. Think you know this story?Read more...
A Best Novel nominee for the 2017 Anthony Award
An African-American man accused of rape by a humiliated girl. A vengeful father. A courageous attorney. A worshipful daughter. Think you know this story? Think again.
Laura Lippman, the "extravagantly gifted" (Chicago Tribune) New York Times bestselling author, delivers "one of her best novels " (Washington Post)--a modern twist on To Kill a Mockingbird. Scott Turow writes in the New York Times, "Wilde Lake is a real success."
Luisa "Lu" Brant is the newly elected state's attorney representing suburban Maryland--including the famous planned community of Columbia, created to be a utopia of racial and economic equality. Prosecuting a controversial case involving a disturbed drifter accused of beating a woman to death, the fiercely ambitious Lu is determined to avoid the traps that have destroyed other competitive, successful women. She's going to play it smart to win this case--and win big--cementing her political future.
But her intensive preparation for trial unexpectedly dredges up painful recollections of another crime--the night when her brother, AJ, saved his best friend at the cost of another man's life. Only eighteen, AJ was cleared by a grand jury. Justice was done. Or was it? Did the events of 1980 happen as she remembers them? She was only a child then. What details didn't she know?
As she plunges deeper into the past, Lu is forced to face a troubling reality. The legal system, the bedrock of her entire life, does not have all the answers. But what happens when she realizes that, for the first time, she doesn't want to know the whole truth?
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2016-03-21
- Reviewer: Staff
Luisa “Lu” Brant, the heroine of this richly plotted and emotionally devastating standalone from Lippman (Hush, Hush), has been newly elected as state’s attorney of Maryland’s Howard County. She’s back in her hometown of Columbia, where she and her brother, AJ, eight years her senior, were raised by their widowed father, Andrew Jackson Brant, a formidable prosecutor with an Atticus Finch sense of justice and morality. Widowed herself and raising eight-year-old twins, Lu lives in the house where she grew up replete with memories of a mostly friendless childhood spent tagging after AJ or reading. Everything in the Brants’ lives is cleaved into before and after a shocking act of violence on the night of AJ’s high school graduation in 1980. When Lu takes on her first murder case as state’s attorney—a woman is found beaten and strangled in her apartment—she has no idea that the defendant, a mentally unstable drifter, could be connected to a larger pattern of darkness stretching back to her childhood. Lippman plays with the concept of truth and expertly homes in on the question of whether there are some truths we never want to know. Agent: Vicky Bijur, Vicky Bijur Literary. (May)
Whodunit: Loose threads unravel half-truth and lies
If you think of Laura Lippman’s Wilde Lake as a reimagined and much darker To Kill a Mockingbird, you wouldn’t be far off. Lippman drew inspiration from Harper Lee’s masterpiece as she considered how events of one era would play out decades later—and how attitudes toward sex and rape would change from 1980 to 2015. The novel centers on Luisa (Lu) Brant, who was a shoe-in for the position of state’s attorney, thanks to the long tenure of her father in the same role years before. She scarcely has time to settle into her new office before a murder case comes across her desk: A drifter is accused in the brutal beating death of a middle-aged woman. It should be an open-and-shut case, but as the investigation progresses, it harkens back to another killing from 30-some years before that involved members of Lu’s family. Chapters alternate between 1980 and the present day, and the suspense ratchets up progressively as Lu discovers that truth is not necessarily a commodity to be sought out and not always something we’ll be happy about when we find it.
WAYS OF SERVING TIME
Events of the past also exert unexpected influence over characters in John Hart’s Redemption Road. Adrian Wall is freshly out of prison after serving 13 years for a murder he did not commit—but for some reason, he wouldn’t take the stand to defend himself. Elizabeth Black is an iconoclastic cop who was one of a handful of people to believe Wall innocent, although she harbors the secret of another killing. Gideon Strange was only an infant when his mother was purportedly murdered by Wall, and now he’s a teenager bent on avenging the death of the mom he never knew. It should come as no surprise that directly after Wall is released from prison, another murder occurs that is shockingly similar in style to the one that got him incarcerated. Naturally, the police make a beeline for Wall, and once again, one of the few people in his corner is Elizabeth. The denouement and climax are certainly cinematic, albeit somewhat unlikely, but if you’re a fan of poetic justice, you’ll find it in spades.
A PLACE FOR DISAPPEARING
Kelley Armstrong’s City of the Lost posits an interesting scenario: a town specifically created as the ultimate off-the-grid destination to escape an abusive partner, go on the lam or drop off the face of the earth. Located deep in the Yukon, Rockton is a village of misfits that one must apply to join and then be accepted by the town council. Residents commit to a minimum of two years and a maximum of five, pay a hefty entrance fee and agree to live without access to mail, cell phones, Internet or any other means of communication with the outside world. It is tailor-made for Diana Berry, who cannot seem to summon up the strength to stay away from her cruel ex-husband, and her friend Casey Duncan, a cop with her own desire for escape. The town council has its own reasons for accepting Casey, however: There have been murders, pretty grisly ones at that, and the police force has proven well out of its depth at solving them. Someone with Casey’s expertise would be able to provide a new perspective and, with luck, bring a killer to justice. This is a taut, well-plotted and thoroughly different sort of thriller.
TOP PICK IN MYSTERY
Hot on the heels of Philip Kerr’s The Other Side of Silence, reviewed in last month’s column, comes another tale of espionage and the witch hunts of homosexuals in 1950s Great Britain. In David Lagercrantz’s gripping novel Fall of Man in Wilmslow, the death of real-life mathematician Alan Turing in the sleepy English town of Wilmslow is widely written off as a suicide (death by poisoned apple, seriously). His conviction for “gross indecency” (the codeword for “homosexuality”) spelled the end of his life as he knew it, with the loss of his security clearance and the censure or outright condemnation of his peers. Yet for Detective Constable Leonard Corell, there is an element of irrational government secrecy around Turing, and this piques his curiosity. Corell’s hunch begins to gain some traction, at least in his own mind, when evidence leads him to one of the more closely guarded secrets of World War II, the decryption of the hitherto uncrackable Nazi encryption code known as the Enigma. But if ever there were a time when curiosity could get you killed, it would be at the onset of the Cold War, and nowhere was paranoia more prevalent than in 1950s England. This is a fascinating, lightly fictionalized look at a pivotal character in the world of Cold War espionage.