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After I'm Gone: A Novel Hardcover – February 11, 2014

3.9 out of 5 stars 325 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Author One-on-One: Dennis Lehane and Laura Lippman

Dennis LehaneLaura Lippman

Dennis Lehane is the author of ten novels—including the New York Times bestsellers Live by Night and Shutter Island.

Dennis Lehane: Place is elemental in our books. Talk about Baltimore and how it inspires your stories.

Laura Lippman: Baltimore is like an eccentric relative, that quirky uncle who you think is amazing when you’re a kid, and you love him so much. Then you grow up and you realize he’s unreliable and a drunk and maybe even a teeny bit racist – and you still love him so much. He’s your blood, your family. How do you work your head around that? Writing books was one way to do it..

DL: Who or what inspires your characters in After I'm Gone? Do you have a particular type of character that fascinates you?

LL: I let my husband give me an idea. Has there ever been truer proof of love? But he thought I was going to write about the real-life disappearance of Julius Salsbury, maybe even solve it. As the book proves, I was pretty uninterested in the man who disappeared even after creating my own version of him, Felix Brewer. I was fascinated by the women left behind. Harlan Coben said once that the stories about the missing are more haunting than the stories about the dead. It was a good observation. So I stole it.

DL:When it comes to process, I have all the discipline of an over-caffeinated flea in a puppy mill. But you’re quite regimented. Can you speak about the pros and cons of that approach?

LL: Anything that makes you comfortable is dangerous. And routine has always been my Prozac. Writers like me, we lean hard on that Flaubert chestnut. “Be regular and orderly in your life so you may be violent and original in your work.” But if you’re too orderly, too safe, how can you ever do something harder, deeper, stranger? Because there’s the other Flaubert quote, the one that our friend Sterling Watson taught me: “Human speech is like a cracked kettle on which we tap crude rhythms for bears to dance to, while we long to make music that will melt the stars.” I want to melt the stars and that goes beyond discipline. Sometimes, I feel like Veda in Mildred Pierce, when she goes to audition for a new piano teacher. He closes the lid on the keys, almost on her fingers, and tells her there’s nothing in her fingers, but there may be something in her head. I hope there’s something in my head to make up for what I don’t have in my fingers.

DL: I stopped writing about Kenzie and Gennaro when they simply stopped talking to me, can’t tell you why, can’t explain it any better than that. What about you and Tess Monaghan? Was there a moment—or a series of them—that led to you leaving that series behind?

LL: She had a baby. And I didn’t know what to do what that darn baby. I wrote The Girl in the Green Raincoat in 2008 when I was hoping to become a mom, but it was so theoretical and abstract. Then I became a mom in 2010 and talk about hardboiled – mud, blood, feces, urine, these endless logic problems. “If a person is traveling alone with a child and that person needs to go to the bathroom, yet the child has finally fallen asleep -- ”

But I need to give Tess a proper ending. I’ve gone back to her for my 2015 book, and I’m trying to build to something, perhaps an arc of 3 books in which I finally let her go. I always feel as if I’m standing between her and a happy life


“Despite the murder at its center, this is less a suspenseful whodunit than a masterly novel of character, with secrets skillfully and gradually revealed. Revel in the pace and pleasures of this book [...] that should add to Lippman’s literary luster.” (Library Journal (starred review))

“Lippman is a bet you just can’t lose.” (Kirkus Reviews (starred review))

“I never miss Laura Lippman’s novels.” (Anna Quindlen, New York Times bestselling author)

“She’s one of the best novelists around, period.” (Washington Post)

“smart and mesmerizing [...] an involving and elegant novel of the psychological ravages of crime” (Booklist)

“Equal parts love story, tragedy and murder mystery, Lippman’s latest thriller delivers twist and emotional depth with its tale of a philandering scheemer whose long-time mistress turns up dead years after he skipped town.” (Entertainment Weekly)

“Lippman is as skillful at plot as she is at characters and setting, and the twists in the novel’s final pages are both surprising and satisfying. [...] Like everything else Lippman has written, “After I’m Gone” transcends the limits of genre.” (Washington Post)

“In this edge-of-your seat tale, a man’s disappearance has unexpected consequences for the women he’s left behind.” (O, the Oprah Magazine)

“pure delight.” (People)

“enthralling” (Houston Chronicle)

“Lippman is one of the deftest hands at whodunit around, and the great characters make for an engaging read.” (Dallas Morning News)

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 334 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow; 1st edition (February 11, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0062083392
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062083395
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (325 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #540,659 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Laura Lippman was a reporter for twenty years, including twelve years at The (Baltimore) Sun. She began writing novels while working fulltime and published seven books about "accidental PI" Tess Monaghan before leaving daily journalism in 2001. Her work has been awarded the Edgar ®, the Anthony, the Agatha, the Shamus, the Nero Wolfe, Gumshoe and Barry awards. She also has been nominated for other prizes in the crime fiction field, including the Hammett and the Macavity. She was the first-ever recipient of the Mayor's Prize for Literary Excellence and the first genre writer recognized as Author of the Year by the Maryland Library Association. Ms. Lippman grew up in Baltimore and attended city schools through ninth grade. After graduating from Wilde Lake High School in Columbia, Md., Ms. Lippman attended Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism. Her other newspaper jobs included the Waco Tribune-Herald and the San Antonio Light. Ms. Lippman returned to Baltimore in 1989 and has lived there since.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Dead is dead. Missing is gone.

Inspired by the Salsbury fraud scandal of the 1970s, After I'm Gone explores how the enigmatic Felix Brewer's sudden disappearance echoes through lives of his wife, daughters, and mistress—the five women he loved and left behind. Both a legal thriller and dazzling sashay through a span of decades, Lippman's newest novel is elaborate, emotionally charged, and deeply probing.

In present-day Baltimore, as retired cop Sandy Sanchez reviews a cold case involving the murder of Julie Saxony—Felix's woman on the side—he notices there are discrepancies from every angle, from every testimony, and he can't help but grow intrigued by the seductive, unsolved story of Felix Brewer, his family, and how it could all be connected to a dead Julie Saxony. The novel slips in and out of each eventful decade, from the fateful Valentine's Day of 1959 when Felix and young, fresh-faced Bambi first met, to Felix's unannounced departure and the aftermath thereof, and finally, to Sandy's determined investigation. The toll Felix's desertion takes on Bambi—both financially and emotionally—as well as the way each of his well-fleshed daughters are affected, will raise great sympathy within readers, but will inevitably keep them on edge, itching to find out: how did Felix manage to leave without a trace, and why did he go without seeing to the well-being of his beloved family?

After I'm Gone is such a well crafted, well explicated mystery novel. It combines an elaborate, arduous tangle of lies, secrets, and even sacrifice, with a sharp, fast-paced procession of revelations. These continuous shifts, shocking discoveries, and impending truths never stop surprising you until the very end, which I think is a fabulous ploy.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Felix Brewer runs a lucrative, if not entirely legal, business. Still it keeps him, his beloved wife Bambi, his three daughters, and his stripper girlfriend Julie living well. That is, at least, until one fine day in 1976. Felix is facing jail time for racketeering and knows he can’t handle it so, with the assistance of Julie, he disappears.

Despite the fact that Felix’s family was assured they would be taken care of, there doesn’t seem to be a spare nickel to keep them afloat. The family is convinced that Julie made off with their money. And when, ten years later, Julie disappears, everyone assumes she’s gone to join Felix.

That is, until 26 years after Felix’s vanishing act, Julie’s body is discovered in a wooded area.

Enter Sandy Sanchez, retired detective, failed Cuban restaurateur, and widower with a lot of ghosts of his own. Sandy takes on the cold case, working it the old fashioned way, talking to everyone who knew anyone involved, prodding their failing memories, tugging at their half-truths and innuendos, watching their reactions, and coming to his own conclusions.

And oh, what a tangled web they have all woven. In their desire to protect each other, the family has hidden all sorts of truths from each other. Friends of the family have been weaving their own webs of deception, as well.

The story goes back and forth, between the Felix-in-Town Days, the present day courtesy of Sandy Sanchez, and all those unexplained days in between until, piece by piece, memory by memory, fact by fact, the whole story emerges. For Tess Monaghan fans, there is a cameo appearance by Tess. For fans of Lippman’s stand-alone novels (of which I am one) this one uses classic Laura Lippman storytelling skills to weave a twisted tale.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
The wife. The three daughters. The girlfriend. The husband, Felix, ran off to avoid prison when his daughters were small, imprisoning all of them, leaving them all to live in his story. Then the girlfriend disappears ten years later, but in some ways, it is still the story of Felix. And when her body is found twenty years later, it is about all of them, still. It was interesting that Laura Lippman's story is based on a snippet of the story, as if it were an odd clipping found in an old desk.

A cold case detective, Sandy Sanchez, takes the case thirty-five years after the disappearance and 25 years after the murder to discover what happened to Julie Saxony, the girlfriend. This story has a richness of its own, a multi-layered facet, in the telling of the stories of the three sisters and their mother, and the longer story that never went away, the missing husband.

The story is as much about Sandy Sanchez, his Cuban immigration ahead of his parents, the parents' death in a car accident, his wife, Mary, his son, Bobby who is institutionalized, and Mary's death. He travels within another subset of cultures within Baltimore. I love the introduction of this new character to Laura Lippman's repertoire.

I'm never sure whether I am going to like a Laura Lippman novel when it is missing Tess Monaghan or for that matter, when it has Tess Monaghan, but as long as it is still in her beloved Baltimore, it's all right with me. Laura Lippman is a superior storyteller and this is a deep and rich mystery.
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