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Every Secret Thing Mass Market Paperback – September 28, 2004

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

With this engrossing mystery/suspense stand-alone novel, Lippman, winner of the Edgar, Shamus and Agatha awards for her series featuring likable heroine Tess Monaghan (Baltimore Blues; Charm City; The Last Place) solidifies her position in the upper tier of today's suspense novelists. Two 11-year-old children-good girl Alice Manning and bad girl Ronnie Fuller-wander homeward in Baltimore after being kicked out of a friend's pool party. They discover a baby in an unattended carriage by the front door of a house and steal it away. The reader watches in horror, knowing what will come next. The baby dies, and Alice and Ronnie are imprisoned for seven years. The mystery involves which girl did the killing, and which was the dupe. After release from prison, their blighted lives move inexorably toward further horror and tragedy. Lippman slowly relinquishes the facts of her story, building suspense as she reveals the past. Her well-honed prose is particularly suited to descriptions that impart more than just appearances: "Holly was one of those people who seemed to be put together with higher quality parts than everyone else"; "...there was something menacing in the very fineness of his bones, as if a bigger boy had been boiled down until all that remained was this concentrated bit of rage and bile." With this book, much darker than any in her past series, Lippman shows she is an author willing to take risks in both writing and storytelling. Her deft handling of this disturbing material is sure to increase the breadth of her readership.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Lippman has won just about every mystery writing award there is--the Edgar, the Agatha, the Anthony, the Shamus, and the Nero Wolfe--for her Tess Monaghan series. This is her first stand-alone mystery, one in which the detectives are consigned to bit parts. The fact that the police here do little save go through the motions underscores the fatalistic feeling at the core of this dark domestic tragedy. Lippman writes the kind of opening that should make readers feel they're following helplessly as a nightmare slowly unfolds. Two 10-year-old girls, bounced from a birthday party for bad behavior, discover a baby in a carriage on the sidewalk and deem it necessary to "save" her. Lippman leaves the reader knowing something terrible happened but unsure what it was until the narrative progresses to seven years later, when the two girls are released from prison and return to their homes, six blocks away from the house to which they brought untold grief. The girls have to adjust to a new prison of neighborhood suspicion. Then, as the girls make somewhat of a new life, children start disappearing, and then reappearing, until one toddler is well and truly missing. Lippman doesn't write a standard whodunit here but plays with reader expectations of what should happen next. A startling page-turner. Connie Fletcher
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Avon (September 28, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060506687
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060506681
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 1.1 x 6.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (162 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #821,845 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

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

71 of 75 people found the following review helpful By Craig Larson VINE VOICE on September 16, 2003
Format: Hardcover
I just finished Laura Lippman's latest (how's that for alliteration?) and what a stunner! _Every Secret Thing_ is a stand-alone novel, not part of the Tess Monaghan series, and it's more of a "portrait of a community" sort of a book than an outright mystery, although it certainly has a strong mystery driving the plot. I'd hesitate to say "breakout book" because I think she broke out long ago, but as I read, I couldn't help but compare the experience to that of reading Dennis Lehane's _Mystic River_, which I still firmly believe is one of the best American books of the last ten years. And I do think that _Every Secret Thing_ is on par with that book.

The story is narrated from multiple viewpoints, including those of a pair of now teenage girls, just released from juvenile detention after serving seven-year sentences for their parts in the kidnapping and death of a baby, the granddaughter of a locally-famous black judge. Ronnie Fuller and Alice Manning have had their lives irrevocably changed, and when another child of mixed race disappears soon after their return home, the girls become prime suspects, after their names are leaked to the press and to the police. At first, we feel sympathetic toward poor Alice, the "good" girl whose life was ruined by the inexplicable actions of the "bad" Ronnie, but as the story goes on, our sympathies are drawn more and more to Ronnie as the secrets of what happened seven years before, and what is happening now, are revealed.

Set in Baltimore, the story is as much about developing character studies of the girls, their families, the police, the press, and so forth, as it is about solving the mystery. The book also presents a portrait of the racism and divisions inherent in society, not just black vs. white, but rich vs. poor, and so on.
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By E. Bukowsky HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on May 8, 2004
Format: Hardcover
When I picked up "Every Secret Thing," by Laura Lippman, I expected nothing more than a formulaic novel about child abductions. Much to my surprise, this book turned out to be a deeply psychological page-turner with marvelously descriptive writing, dry humor, and intricate plotting. Now that I have finished the book, the highest compliment that I can pay to Ms. Lippman is that she reminds me of the great British novelist, Ruth Rendell. Why? Rendell has never been satisfied with the standard whodunit formula. She likes to examine the unexplored dark corners of the human psyche and the mystery is not always the centerpiece of her books. The people are.
"Every Secret Thing" begins with a tragedy. A little girl named Olivia Barnes is kidnapped and, several days later, she is murdered. Two eleven-year-old girls named Ronnie Fuller and Alice Manning are charged with the crime, and they spend seven years in juvenile detention facilities. When they are released, Ronnie and Alice are young women of eighteen. Before long, when another little girl named Brittany goes missing, Ronnie and Alice are once again under suspicion.
There are so many things to praise about this book that it is difficult to pick one, but above all else, the character development is uniformly outstanding. We get to know each major and several minor characters intimately, as if they were our own neighbors. Lippman gives us a glimpse into the minds of Ronnie and Alice, two unhappy and lonely misfits with a tenuous grip on reality.
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23 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Laura Christine on November 25, 2008
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Ms. Lippman is a talented writer that is capable of taking you along for a ride.

I appreciate a good plot twist as much as anyone, but when this novel ended I felt like I had been duped. (I am not the type that necessarily tries to solve the mystery as I am reading, so yes, it is possible to suck me in.)

It seems that Ms. Lippman used her talent to play on the reader's sympathies. I walked away from this book feeling like I had rooted for the wrong team.

While I won't deny the author's skills as a novelist, this was not a feel-good experience.

On a constructive note, I would suggest Lippman's "What the Dead Know". While WTDK is not entirely uplifting, it is a twisting novel that succeeds in creating some sense of resolution and reconciliation in the end.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Christy T. French on October 19, 2003
Format: Hardcover
"Every Secret Thing" is Lippman's first standalone novel, a thriller dealing with children who commit crimes, the reasoning behind their criminal behavior, and the adults they ultimately become.
Alice Manning and Ronnie Fuller are convicted at the age of 11 of murdering a small child, who is the granddaughter of a powerful black judge in their community. They are incarcerated in separate juvenile facilities for seven years, then released with warnings to stay away from each other. Ronnie, who has always been looked upon as the "bad girl," tries to engage herself in as normal a life as she can have. Alice, on the other hand, always considered the "good girl" who was simply following Ronnie's lead, seems to be content to stay at home or take long, mysterious walks. Shortly after their return, small girls begin to disappear for short periods. When a young interracial girl is kidnapped, the police begin to focus their investigation on Ronnie and Alice.
With the Tess Monaghan series, Lippman has become known for her witty dialogue and realistic characters, but "Every Secret Thing" proves her ability to delve into more complex, darker characters. Her portrayal of Alice's mother is fascinating, as well as her depiction of the former, then present, mental states of Alice and Ronnie. She weaves past with present as she tells the story of what happened with the baby Alice and Ronnie are accused of murdering. A fascinating look at a dark subject and a book which proves Laura Lippman is an author who herself stands out.
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