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62 of 66 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Stand-Alone Mystery
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...
Published on September 16, 2003 by Craig Larson

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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Was Not Left With a Good Feeling
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...
Published on November 25, 2008 by Laura Christine


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62 of 66 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Stand-Alone Mystery, September 16, 2003
By 
Craig Larson (Maple Grove, MN USA) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
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. There are great passages about the struggles faced by homicide detective Nancy Porter, who found the dead baby many years ago and who is now assigned to the new investigation, that are worthy of _Homicide: Life on the Street_ or _The Wire_. Lippman draws deft portraits of both Sharon Kerpelman, the public defender who feels she failed Alice in the earlier case, and Mira Jenkins, the reporter who sees this story as her chance to "move downtown." And Cynthia Barnes, the mother of the murdered baby, is a fully-shaded character who sees the possibility to get some sort of revenge on the girls, who she feels should have been tried as adults.

This is a gripping story, full of tension and emotion. It has moments of sadness and moments of humor. It's a great book by a great writer and I'd be surprised if it isn't nominated for the major awards in the field this year. Very highly recommended.
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Was Not Left With a Good Feeling, November 25, 2008
This review is from: Every Secret Thing (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 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An American Ruth Rendell., May 8, 2004
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. We become well acquainted with Helen Manning, Alice's narcissistic and foolish mother, Nancy Porter, the cop who found Olivia's body and has been haunted by the case ever since, and Cynthia Barnes, Olivia's bitter and grieving mother whose life is devoted to seeing Alice and Ronnie destroyed. That the two girls responsible for killing Olivia should be set free to walk the earth is simply not an option for Cynthia, who has powerful political connections and is used to getting what she wants.
As the story unfolds, a tale of psychological horror emerges that is truly chilling. When I turned the last page, I knew that I would be thinking about this book for some time to come, marveling at how Lippman mines so many themes so effectively, and how she makes us care deeply about the outcome of her story. Don't miss this unforgettable thriller.
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30 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Totally blown away, September 4, 2003
The Last Place knocked my socks off as the best Lippman book yet. In comparison to Every Secret Thing, it's Lippman's second best book (and best Tess). Every Secret Thing is a whole new level of writing for Lippman. Every Secret Thing is dark, exploring, questioning, and powerful. Some Tess fans may be disappointed by the tone of this book -- it may be darker than they prefer -- but they won't be disappointed by the quality of writing or the story. It's not Tess, *and* it is still very, very good. I thought about this book for a long time after I read it.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lippman Stands Out!, October 19, 2003
By 
Christy T. French "author" (Powell, TN, author, "The Bodyguard") - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
"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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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Taut, suspenseful and surprising., January 1, 2004
I held my breath through much of this book. What a story. Two young girls (age 11) are imprisoned for killing a baby. The story takes place after they are recently released, although the story goes back and forth between time.
The story centers around a new crime. Another missing child. Apparently, there have been toddlers missing for short periods of time prior to the abduction. Did the girls have anything to do with it?
If you saw or read Dennis Lehane's Mystic River, you know the tragedy that results when young people are damaged by crime. In this book, the girls had problems when the first crime was committed. Now that they have been released, their lack of social skills and complete lack of self esteem lead them into the lair of the detective's noose.
The story focuses on several characters, including the mother of one of the girls and the detectives. It also focuses on the family of the first child who was abducted and killed.
I read this book in a day and a half. Ms. Lippman is a terrific writer. The book had me on the seat of my chair. I burned a meal reading this book. Highly recommend!!
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Failure to find her voice, August 7, 2009
By 
This review is from: Every Secret Thing (Mass Market Paperback)
In reading Laura Lippman in the order of her published books, one of the things that's stood out is the difficulty she was still having as of 2003 in finding her own voice. Her Tess Monaghan stories, a bit better than average as detective fiction goes, have nonetheless read too much like Philip Marlow TV knock-offs with a young female character. I take Every Secret Thing as an attempt to try a new tact. Unfortunately, and I mean that in the sense of this reader's frustration, she fails with Every Secret Thing.

This is the sort of book that will appeal to many, just like many Hollywood movies that tug on familiar news topics with emotional strings do. Narrowing that a bit, there's a generational angle to that tug, with the book organized around individual's social and psychological stories weaving in and out of narrative focus; a child or two's kidnapping; a couple of police detectives, one female, bumbling along, in the end succeeding in spite of themselves though absent any logic for doing so; a kniving reporter; and a major dose of victim's rights, treated cynically for well over 300 pages until achieving vindication and a touch of celebration in the end. Those who recognize much of this as embodying post-Vietnam 'Me Generation' themes and styles will do well to look elsewhere for their next read. The main story line is thin and preposterous, the chapters 75% filled with detail that's extraneous to the story and not particularly interesting in itself (380 pages could have been 180 or less), many of the characters' thinking and actions don't make much sense or are inadequately explained or justified, etc.. Just as in the Tess Monaghan series, Lippman takes narrative short cuts and can help her own literaty self-indulgences, but in this case without the air of substantive legitimacy that those typically aspire to. Readable, but not recommended.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very Well Done Psychological Drama, February 24, 2007
By 
Thriller Lover (Las Vegas, Nevada) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Every Secret Thing (Mass Market Paperback)
I read a lot of thrillers, and I thought EVERY SECRET THING was very well done. This is not a fast paced thriller, but is instead more of a psychological drama. There are a fair number of characters in this novel, and Lippman takes a lot of time exploring the psyche of each individual person. To her credit, Lippman is able to flesh out all the major characters and make them seem believable. If you like character-based crime novels in the vein of MYSTIC RIVER, this is a good choice.

This type of novel isn't for everybody though. EVERY SECRET THING has a very dark tone, and Lippman does not write about perfect, heroic characters. Nearly all the major players in this book are flawed and self-absorbed at some level. Some of them are downright annoying. Of course, you could say the same thing about most people in real life. Nevertheless, Lippman is able to make all of these flawed characters sympathetic for the most part, which kept me turning the pages.

My only quibble with EVERY SECRET THING is the ending. There is a big twist near the end of this book that struck me as rather forced and laborious. I can't say much more about it without giving away the storyline, but I felt the ending didn't live up to the high quality of what preceded it. Perhaps I'm in the minority, but I don't think every thriller novel requires a huge twist at the end.

This novel got a lot of attention and won the Anthony and Barry awards for best novel. I think it deserved those awards. I have read only one other Lippman book, her debut BALTIMORE BLUES, and I must admit I found it pretty disappointing. My understanding is that Lippman has grown as a writer over the last ten years and her best books are her most recent. So if you've never read Lippman before, EVERY SECRET THING is probably a good place to start.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars I guess my expectations were too high., February 5, 2005
This review is from: Every Secret Thing (Mass Market Paperback)
I don't know why I got this impression, but I thought Every Secret Thing would be a twisty, imaginative thriller in the vein of a Harlan Coben novel. The reviews certainly suggested it! What I got instead was more of a psychological drama with a couple of twists laboriously delivered after nearly 400 pages. I don't mind a well-done psychological drama - A Fatal Inversion by Barbara Vine and The Little House by Philippa Gregory were both terrific novels - but Every Secret Thing failed to make the grade.

It mostly felt like chapter after chapter of characters prattling on about everything except the central mystery at hand. And the excessive head-jumping ensured that none of the characters were developed to any satisfaction. What was that journalist even doing in the book again? She served virtually no purpose whatsoever, other than to pad out the word count. I've heard many positive things about Laura Lippman, but this novel doesn't exactly inspire me to hunt down any of her earlier works.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Just OK, November 27, 2010
By 
This review is from: Every Secret Thing (Mass Market Paperback)
Synopsis: Alice Manning and Ronnie Fuller, two 11-year-old Baltimore girls, were on their way home from a birthday party when their lives were changed forever. The girls spot a child, unattended in a baby carriage. Deciding to help, the girls take the baby and try to care for it. But the baby dies, and Alice and Ronnie are sent away for 7 years.

At the age of 18, the two girls are released and instructed to have no contact with one another. Each girl is to try to build a new life for herself. But when babies start to disappear in situations startlingly similar to Alice and Ronnie's crime, people begin to wonder whether the two girls should have been released and what really happened to the baby the girls were charged with murdering.

Review: The premise of this novel is very intriguing. Two 11-year-old girls kill an infant, serve time in jail, are released, and then similar crimes begin to occur. I think, especially given the unfortunate events that occur in our society, children committing murder does hold a bit of fascination for the reader.

With that being said, I wasn't blown away by this novel. I enjoyed it, particularly the first half of the novel, but it ended up being one of those books that are more exciting in the dust jacket description than in execution.

The characters were well written. The plot was good. The writing style was very easy to fall into. This book was also a very quick read. There was just something lacking for me, though. It was missing that extra bit of oomph that would have pushed me from lukewarm to on fire.

If you are looking for a decent mystery novel with an unusual plot, definitely check this book out. I wouldn't steer anyone away from this book, but I might not guide them toward it either.
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Every Secret Thing
Every Secret Thing by Laura Lippman (Mass Market Paperback - September 28, 2004)
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