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67 of 73 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "We were the most dangerous things in the woods."
Lippman explores a mythologized childhood in the woods that skirts Dickeyville, a suburb just inside Baltimore. Five children, Gwen, tomboy Mickey and the wild Halloran brothers, Sean, Tim and Gordon (Go-Go), spend their summers exploring, far exceeding the boundaries of their parents' permission to remain on the outskirts of the wilderness. The unity of five, Go-Go the...
Published on August 23, 2011 by Luan Gaines

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37 of 42 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars I was expecting much more
3.5 stars.

After I finished I WOULD KNOW YOU ANYWHERE and loved it, I was eager to purchase Laura Lippman's latest THE MOST DANGEROUS THING.

The book is very well written and explores childhood friendships and childhood secrets. The story goes back and forth from the late 70's to current time. Every chapter is narrated by a different character which...
Published on September 2, 2011 by Lisa Baker


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67 of 73 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "We were the most dangerous things in the woods.", August 23, 2011
Lippman explores a mythologized childhood in the woods that skirts Dickeyville, a suburb just inside Baltimore. Five children, Gwen, tomboy Mickey and the wild Halloran brothers, Sean, Tim and Gordon (Go-Go), spend their summers exploring, far exceeding the boundaries of their parents' permission to remain on the outskirts of the wilderness. The unity of five, Go-Go the youngest, following the older kids like a happy puppy, gradually evolves with the onset of adolescence, until a fateful summer where a ramshackle cottage is the scene of tragedy the night of a fearsome hurricane. Thirty-two years later, Go-Go is dead, either by accident or suicide, his descent into bad behavior long a familiar theme in the Halloran family. Go-Go's history is littered with secrets, the long habits of parents keeping silent about bad things infecting five friends who have secrets of their own. None of them have survived that final summer unscathed, brought together finally by the loss of the boy who raptly copied everything they did and hid the ugliest secret of them all.

The narrative voice dissects the lives of each, Gwen, Tim, Sean, Go-Go and Mickey (who has changed her name to McKey). But Lippman fleshes out these pivotal characters with their mothers and fathers, the family patterns, the facades of marriage and secrets passed from one generation to another. Often the pages feel weighted with regrets, of mistakes made and roads not taken: a beautiful, artistic mother who once dreamed of Paris and painting; a woman who trades on the artifice of her body even as her beauty fades to blowsy, changing men like costumes; fathers who act on behalf of their children, adding another layer of deceit to an already senseless tragedy; adolescents eager to explore the adult world and taste forbidden fruit, only later to be burdened with the consequences of their carelessness.

In a provocative and thoughtful novel, Lippman is not content to let events drive her story, delving relentlessly into personalities, motives, the collision of egos and the instinct for self-preservation. Guilt is reduced to nearly equal portions, a collective tragedy, a collective secret that begs for release. As expected, the truth provides a measure of relief, the breaking of silence the only palliative to now-adult lives filled with mistakes and opportunities. Humanity is, after all, a complicated thing. Lippman avoids the easy dismissal or the facile explanation. No, this is murkier territory, where only one body remains buried, secrets intact. Luan Gaines/2011.
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37 of 42 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars I was expecting much more, September 2, 2011
By 
Lisa Baker (South Carolina) - See all my reviews
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3.5 stars.

After I finished I WOULD KNOW YOU ANYWHERE and loved it, I was eager to purchase Laura Lippman's latest THE MOST DANGEROUS THING.

The book is very well written and explores childhood friendships and childhood secrets. The story goes back and forth from the late 70's to current time. Every chapter is narrated by a different character which is fine, but sometimes I found it hard to figure out who was talking at the time. The story flows very smoothly but I almost want to say there is "much ado about nothing". I was expecting something horrific, terrible and completely different than what actually happens.

When I finished the book I said "what"? That's it? I guess my feelings stemmed from the whole book leading up to this secret lie or cover up which I just didnt think was so horrible. (bad, mind you, but not horrible to cause the feelings and depths everyone took to hide it)

Loved her characters and their development but just felt let down after it was finished. I will say I am glad I bought it because I was entertained but just let down by the ending.

Ps. This is a very personal book for her as she is writing some of the characters and the setting from her actual childhood, maybe that had something to do with it.
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "It's the most wonderful time of the year." song lyrics, December 17, 2011
In the Dickeyville area of Baltimore, five school-age children meet and bond. They form a group and compare themselves to the five arms of a starfish. The group is composed of Gwen, the Halloran brothers, Tim, Sean and Go Go and, Mickey Wyckoff, the other girl in the group.

Their neighborhood was quiet and the parents permitted the children to play without monitoring their activities.

The action in the story moves from events in the 1970s to current time.

In current time, Gwen returns to care for her elderly father who has broken his hip in a fall. While home, she meets Sean Halloran who informs her that his brother, Go Go, has died, from suicide.

We learn about the character's lives since their teenage years. Gwen is married to a surgeon named Karl who seems mainly interested in himself. She's a magazine editor and wonders if she wants to live in a home where her husband is the only thing that matters.

The friends often played in Leaken Park and in 1978, while exploring, they come upon an abandoned cabin that was now the dwelling of a homeless black man. There are numerous chickens around the property and they refer to the man as Chicken George. They become casual friends of this man who often disappears for long periods.

During the summer of 1978, Gwen and Sean were dating and in her bedroom when Mickey and Go Go travel to the cabin and become involved in something with Chicken George.

We observe various sides to this event which has a major effect on the group and ends their childhood innocence.

The story is told at a leisurely pace to match the uncomplicated life the characters had. The dialogue shows the changes from when the characters were young to their maturity. This achievement is one that not many authors are able to manage.

The novel is entertaining as we witness the development of the characters and their parents as they deal with the incident. The conclusion leaves the reader saddened that the innocence of childhood is such a fleeting thing.

3 1/2 stars moving up to 4 stars.
Received free book for honest review.
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18 of 22 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars HAUNTING, COMPLEX, INSIGHTFUL, August 23, 2011
Early in Laura Lippman's haunting, complex tale we read, "for a long time, ...forever, Gordon's mind has been split by a thick, dark line, a line that divides and defines his life as well." Gordon (aka Go-Go) is doubtless the youngest and wildest of the three Halloran boys. In all likelihood he would be the wildest in any group or family, a child driven by unknown forces that cause him to act out in alarming ways.

An odd alliance is formed in a Baltimore suburb, Dickeyville, during the spring of 1977 between the Hallorans, Sean, Tim and Go-Go, Mickey, an older than her years tomboy whose waitress mother pays little attention to her and a lot of attention to men. The fifth member of the group is sweet, slightly pudgy Gwen who frets about her appearance, wishing to be slim and not at all like her mother, Tally.

The five spend their days exploring Leakin Park, a dense outcrop of woods, paths, and streams. It is there that they find a ramshackle cabin occupied by one Chicken George, a mysterious man whose one prized possession is a guitar. The children are quite taken with their discovery, keeping it a secret and bringing things to Chicken George. Then the unforeseen occurs, the children are panicked, frightened and go to their parents for help. The group is shattered and each goes his and her own way.

Time passes and as adults each is settled or unsettled as the case may be in leading their own lives. Mickey has become an airline stewardess, Gwen is on the verge of divorce, Tim is married and tends to his mother, while Sean has moved to Florida with his overbearing wife. The group is reunited when Go-Go is killed in an automobile accident. As Lippman segues between past and present we learn of that disastrous night in 1979 from each of the now grown children as well as their parents.

The Most Dangerous Thing is a fascinating, insightful tale reminding us that the past is always part of the present, and that the carelessness of youth may well affect adult lives.

- Gail Cooke
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars The Most Dangerous Thing, September 7, 2011
By 
K. Hill (Windsor, NC USA) - See all my reviews
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PLOT: Gordon Halloran has fallen off the wagon again. When he dies in a car accident, it begins to raise questions among his childhood friends about an incident that happened one long ago summer.

CONS: I selected this thinking it was a mystery. There's very little mystery here. The only questions I had while reading it were when would it end and why I was still reading it. The Most Dangerous Thing is a long winded dull version of "I Know What You Did Last Summer." Only worse. It doesn't take the reader long to figure out what the secret that the friends share is going to be, but it sure takes a long time for the novel to reveal it. By this time, it's anticlimactic.

With few exceptions, most of the characters were self absorbed and unlikeable.

There is so little action in this novel. It's like reading someone's diary. Filled with more introspective thoughts than action, the story goes almost nowhere. It's roughly half flash back. Even in the flashbacks, there's little action or conversation.

PROS: There are a few funny bits.

2 STARS: I really liked Hardly Knew Her by this author and kept expecting this story to get better. It didn't.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "You get the world on loan, on terms you don't dictate and can't control.", August 23, 2011
"The Most Dangerous Thing" is in some ways a departure for Laura Lippman. In others, it is typical of her masterful craftsmanship. It is not, strictly speaking, a Tess Monaghan novel, although Tess makes a brief but effective appearance. Nor is it a standard whodunit. It is, as Lippman's best works are, a compelling character study of people who have been shaped by their troubled past. They survive emotionally by rationalizing their actions, even when they know that they have behaved badly.

The author veers back and forth between the late seventies and the present day. Three boys and two girls who were once close are shaken by a tragic event that is destined to scar them for life. They are: the Halloran brothers--Gordon, or Go-Go as he is known, a wild and mischievous boy and his two more conventional brothers, Sean and Tim; Gwen Robison, who lives in a nice house and has well-off parents but is still a bit insecure; and the beautiful Mickey, a tomboy who lives with her working-class mother and a series of "stepfathers." Mickey has an aggressive streak and a huge chip on her shoulder. She also uses her looks "to get what she wants or needs."

Lippman meticulously depicts the ebb and flow of the children's friendship and shows how their parents' attitudes helped shape their personalities. The story begins with a shocking death, but only gradually does Lippman fill in the the missing pieces that will help us make sense of what has happened. "The Most Dangerous Thing" has magnificent descriptive passages, scathing humor, astute social commentary, and deep insight into what makes people act the way they do. With her beloved Baltimore serving as an evocative backdrop, the author brings her original and carefully constructed story to brilliant life. She peels away the layers of falsehood behind which her characters hide and shows how Gordon, Sean, Tim, Gwen, and Mickey grow from relatively carefree and fun-loving youngsters into, in several cases, conflicted and troubled adults. This is a powerful tale that becomes steadily more compelling as it proceeds to its shattering conclusion.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars It Was NOT The Most Dangerous Thing, September 13, 2011
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I have read many of Laura Lippman's books and admired her for the ability to get inside the soul of an adult. In this crowded novel, Lippman seems to be flaying from diverse adults to children who seem to believe they were involved in The Most Dangerous Thing. Without revealing the plot or climax, five children were friends during the 1970's; they were different economically, socially and intellectually. But they were a tight club and experimented with situations like many children who are tempted and have a strong need to belong.

Oddly enough, I did not find the children interesting, as children or adults, except for Go-Go. The most fascinating characters were the parents of these five children. Tally Robison, mother of three, married to a doctor, pretty and pre-occupied with what her life should have been. Her youngest daughter, Gwen, is a main character as a child and adult. Doris Halloran, mother of three boys, who strives to do the right thing and love her children at all costs. There is Rita, Mickey McKey's single mother, who foregoes any morals for the thrill of the chase. Lippman introduces more adults who are integral to the story but she focuses on the children into their adulthood.

They are linked by an incident that was to have been a deep, dark secret. Nothing was as it seemed and it purportedly affected their lives. Lippman connects the dots at the end but it was anti-climatic and almost boring.

She had too many characters; she did flesh them out but I felt she never completed the tale with true motivations or intelligence. Lippman touched on copious problems: alcoholism, amoral lifestyles, jealousy, boredom, career development, abnormal behavior, good stepfathers, bad fathers, good fathers, cruel husbands and even the Catholic Church. The novel would have a better impact if she developed Chicken George, who was he really, and where did he go? I expected real danger but it was not easily manufactured.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointed, October 1, 2011
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I have enjoyed several books by Laura Lippman, but this one misses the mark. I found the story to be dull and lack the suspense that this author is known for. There were no great surprises, no big mystery, and no suspense... it was just a stereotypical story. I was very disappointed in this book and hope Ms Lippman goes back to her regular writing style.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars THE PSYCHOLOGY OF WE FIVE, September 11, 2011
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Is it a fact of life that no matter how old we get we always hear our parents voices echoing back to us as we make our feeble attempt to guide our own children?

Laura Lippman must have been listening to a combination of voices from her past as well as channeling "old blue eyes" singing MY WAY when she embarked on her latest offering A MOST DANGEROUS THING. How does that line go? "Regrets, I've had a few but then again too few to mention". Well when you take the sum total of regrets in the lives of the characters envisioned by Ms. Lippman in this latest offering you just might be buried under the avalanche of regrets being voiced.

While the story is ostensibly about five playmates growing up in the town of Dickeyville and a secret that all, except one of them, has chosen to bury in the past, it is in fact a story of three families. Told from the perspective of ten different people each individual segment adds yet another piece of fabric to this patchwork quilt of a novel.

Both the parents and their off-spring seem to be suffering from a combination of depression and guilt as they individually lament the irrevocable choices they have made. Having gone their separate ways for many years, the untimely death of one of the five friends has reunited them together once again (ala The Big Chill). Each begins to mentally examine the "what if's" and the "what might have beens".

Liipmann has given us a relatively coherent and cohesive portrait of three families with each character's perspective adding layers to this paradoxical tale. The "secret" at the crux of the story is really no secret, but more a matter of each person's denial of personal responsibility. This is definitely not the best work Lippman has produced but it does serve as a checklist of sorts which we can all use to examine where we've been, what we fear, what we aspire to, what we could ultimately attain, and what we're willing to settle for.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mystic River Meets Empire Falls, October 19, 2011
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This review is from: The Most Dangerous Thing (Kindle Edition)
I've been hearing great things about Laura Lippman for years, and now I know why. I picked up this book on audio and was immediately engrossed. There's a great mystery at the center of the story, and as the layers get peeled back you get progressively more eager to know what really happened on the night of the hurricane. But what really drove the book for me were the characters. These people, with all their hopes and confusion and disappointments and secrets and resentments, felt completely real to me, and more than once I was struck by how wise the writer must be to know them (and present them) so well.

On the mystery level, I found it reminiscent of Mystic River -- a childhood event that warps relationships and plays itself out through the characters' lives and across generations. But on the character level, it reminded me of Empire Falls, with its collection of fascinating, totally believable people and their convoluted relationships. And yet it wasn't at all derivative of anything I've ever read -- just a great, original story.
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The Most Dangerous Thing
The Most Dangerous Thing by Laura Lippman
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