98 of 103 people found the following review helpful
Almost but not quite,
This review is from: What the Dead Know: A Novel (Hardcover)
There's no question in my mind that Lippman is a very talented author. This book grabbed me pretty much right from the beginning and I could hardly wait for her to dole out the bits and pieces of information that led to the big picture of the whole story. However, while the pacing was good and her characters were very vivid, I did not care for the ending and didn't find it all that realistic.
The character who stood out the most for me was Heather. Though she is ostensibly the victim, she is not a sympathetic character. She's such a narcissist that I was really turned off by her. I found it feasible that someone who'd been through such an ordeal could emerge with this type of psychology but I found Heather really appalling and distasteful at times. This was actually rather refreshing to me and I think it gave the story more resonance than a tearful, weepy, and really "victimlike" victim would have. She was compelling in a rather creepy way. This considered, though, I didn't find what ultimately happened to her in the end to be convincing.
Another weakness of this novel was that the police seemed to me to be a bit stereotypically portrayed. Kevin was far too much of a two-dimensional character and, for that reason, I didn't find him very interesting. The womanizing policeman with a history of failed marriages has been done to death and it would have been more interesting to me had Kevin been more unexpected. Lippman does deliver somewhat with Kevin's female ex-partner but this character doesn't get a lot of pages, which is disappointing. I think the novel would have been even better had she been the lead on the case.
The great strength of this novel is the way it leaps from present to past again and then weaves all of the threads of the story into one tapestry. I especially liked reading about Dave and Miriam as the more they were fleshed out, the more compelling I found the overall story. I found this akin to my own experiences growing up, as I came to realize that my parents were more than just Mom and Dad, they were people too. Dave and Miriam are complex, as is the structure of their marriage, and it was fascinating to read their thoughts on how their own actions and choices may or may not have influenced what happened to their daughters.
Overall, I liked this work and would like to read more of Lippman's but I didn't find it quite worth of the high praise that I've seen lavished upon it.
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Showing 1-10 of 12 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Aug 29, 2007, 8:34:18 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Aug 29, 2007, 8:36:03 PM PDT
Brad Stewart says:
After reading this reviews for, What the Dead Know, I found it to be most informative.
In reply to an earlier post on Aug 30, 2007, 4:09:55 AM PDT
Thanks for the feedback. I'm glad you found the review helpful as that's always my intent when I post a review.
Posted on Dec 18, 2008, 4:57:09 AM PST
Georgia Peach says:
I wholeheartedly agree with this review. Well said.
Posted on Jan 26, 2009, 11:35:03 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 26, 2009, 11:36:52 AM PST
In reply to an earlier post on Nov 26, 2010, 2:50:23 PM PST
lol...I never even noticed that they were an African American family:)
In reply to an earlier post on May 21, 2011, 10:21:06 AM PDT
Dana Carter says:
They weren't. Miriam was Jewish, and there was never a reference to the father being African-American--like many white men with curly hair in the 60's-70's, he grew his hair out in an afro-style hairdo.
Posted on Jun 4, 2011, 10:23:26 AM PDT
In reply to an earlier post on Sep 30, 2012, 4:18:21 PM PDT
Jeez, do you think you could have possibly given any more of the plot away than that??
In reply to an earlier post on Oct 15, 2012, 1:50:57 AM PDT
Wow, seriously @coalpuss? I can't believe you just...ruined the book like that. I was seriously considering reading this book despite the tepid reviews and you just-ugh. Unbelievable.
In reply to an earlier post on Dec 18, 2013, 6:42:49 PM PST
Joelle H Greig says:
Wow! Give away, much? Thanks for the spoiler alert! NOT!