January 06, 2008

BOOKS: What the Dead Know, Laura Lippman (2007)

A woman, mildly disoriented after being involved in an auto accident, tells the police that she is Heather Bethany, the younger of two sisters who disappeared from a local shopping mall 30 years ago. She refuses, though, to say anything about where she has been or what happened to her and her sister.

There's no evidence to support her story, and the tiny scraps of information she does provide all seem to lead to dead ends. The policeman assigned to the case is skeptical, but can't find any evidence to disprove her story, either.

Lippman's story leaps back and forth from the present to various points over the last thirty years, focusing mostly on the effect of Sunny and Heather's disappearance on their parents; those parts of the book are particularly well done. It's not until fairly late in the book that we actually find out who the mystery woman really is (though I think you'll probably figure it out before Lippman reveals it) and what actually happened to the Bethany sisters.

A fine mystery novel, with rich characters and a beautifully laid out plot.

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