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Wilde Lake: A Novel Hardcover – May 3, 2016
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From School Library Journal
At 17, Lu's older brother AJ was involved in the death of another teen. Though AJ walked away with a broken arm while the other boy was killed with his own knife, the event was ruled an accident. Lu idolizes her older brother almost as much as she looks up to her father, Andrew Jackson Brent Sr., a state's attorney and a pillar of society in their newly minted utopian society of the late 1960s. Now Lu, aka Luisa, a state's attorney herself, is the widowed mother of twins and lives with her aging dad. There is a new murder, and as Lu tries this case, connections to her father's biggest murder case, links to her brother's tragic events, and all of Lu's most vivid memories slowly unfold. The story is told in a series of flashbacks that are deftly handled by the author, and readers will assume that there must be a connection among all these deaths. The suspense of not knowing just what's going on, the smooth writing, and the slight cliff-hanger effect of the alternating chapters will keep readers up late. This is much more than a mystery or thriller; the crimes are almost a mere backdrop to the personal stories of Lu and her family members. The honest portrayals of teenage AJ and his much younger sister growing up will have wide YA appeal. VERDICT First purchase for all high school libraries, and a great read-alike for fans of To Kill a Mockingbird.—Jake Pettit, Enka Schools, Istanbul, Turkey
“Laura Lippman is one of my favorite writers. I cannot focus on anything else when I am reading one of her books. Her writing makes me wish I lived a sexier and more violent life.” (Mindy Kaling)
“Laura Lippman’s WILDE LAKE is one of her best and most personal. . . . Lippman’s novels are tough-minded, entertaining, heartfelt and wise . . . . She’s one of today’s essential writers, and this, her 20th novel, reminds us why.” (Washington Post)
“… [a] richly plotted and emotionally devastating standalone…Lippman plays with the concept of truth and expertly hones in on the question of whether there are some truths we never want to know.” (Publishers Weekly (starred review))
“She’s one of the best novelists around, period.” (Washington Post)
“I never miss Laura Lippman’s novels.” (Anna Quindlen, New York Times bestselling author)
“Laura Lippman’s stories aren’t just mysteries; they are deeply moving explorations of the human heart. She is quite simply one of the best crime novelists writing today.” (Tess Gerritsen)
“Lippman is an expert at lending a clear-eyed view of the bonds that link people and the truths we tell ourselves to survive the emotional morass of life. She continues this high standard in Wilde Lake.” (Associated Press)
“As shocking secrets are revealed, the reader realizes that nothing and no one can be taken at face value in Lippman’s brainy, witty, socially conscious, and all-consuming inquiry into human nature and our slowly evolving sense of justice and equality...Lippman is an A-list crime writer.” (Booklist (starred review))
“Lippman as always treads the fine line between certainty and amazement.” (Kirkus Reviews)
“Ultimately, Wilde Lake is not so much a crime novel that rises to the level of serious literature as serious literature that rises to the level of great crime fiction. (Chicago Tribune)
“A heady brew of twisting tale and accelerating introspection, Wilde Lake at once disturbs and delights, as Lippman impels not only her characters but also her readers to question the depth of their understanding of the past…” (Richmond Times-Dispatch)
“Wilde Lake is engrossing, suspenseful and substantial, its wit easing a sober, somewhat elegiac air.” (New York Times Book Review)
“Lippman draws on two decades of crime reporting to produce a heart-stopping new thriller, which pivots on a state attorney’s drive and cunning as she unravels a baffling murder case with personal implications.” (O Magazine)
Top customer reviews
Luisa "Lu" Brandt's childhood is one of both tragedy and triumph. Her mother died one day after giving birth to Lu, leaving Andrew Jackson Brandt to raise her and her older brother AJ. Mr. Brandt never adapted to the domesticity that being a single father demands, but he did fiercely love his children. Never having a true female role model, other than the family housekeeper Teensy, Lu struggled to find her place in the world. Even in the idealistic community of Columbia, teachers and students were hesitant to accept Lu for the individual free spirit that she was. Throughout the tribulations of adolescence, Lu learned that family was the only thing in life that would never waver. This lesson was cemented into her being on the night that AJ killed a local townsman while defending a friend. Her father used his influence as the State's Attorney to see that the incident was swiftly resolved and didn't cause any unneeded trauma to his son.
Years later, Lu finds her life coming full circle. After her husband's untimely death, she relocated herself and her twin children back to her childhood home. Not long after the move, she was elected to hold the very same office her father held years ago. With the shadow of her father's highly revered career looming over her, Lu hits the ground running by taking on a murder case. The incident of a mentally unstable drifter killing a local young woman seems like the perfect way for Lu to assert the power of her new job. But new revelations force Lu to face inconsistencies in her own past and call into question the memories that she holds dear.
Readers of Laura Lippman's novels have come to expect intricate mysteries that keep the pages turning and our imaginations working. While Wilde Lake certainly does its part to keep this tradition alive, it is much more a family drama than a conventional thriller. As the story unfolds, the relationship between Lu and her father and brother takes center stage. Yes, there is a mystery that will keep you guessing to the very end, but this mystery is not the central focus of the novel. Rather, the murder case is used to advance the development of the the true nature of the family's narrative.
The novel alternates between past and present. The present day sections read like many of Lippman's past efforts. Lu is a flawed character who we can't help but connect with and root for. It is in the sections about Lu's childhood where Lippman offers something refreshingly different. Echoes of Harper Lee's To Kill A Mockingbird permeate the story of a young girl being raised by her lawyer father. The childlike innocence of these portions only add to the suspense of the present day mystery. As past and present collide, Lippman weaves a poignant tale that comments on family loyalty and the vulnerability of memory. Wilde Lake is a stirring work that proves that Lippman is a master of her craft.