by Laura Lippman
: With this engrossing mystery/suspense stand-alone novel, Lippman, winner of the Edgar, Shamus and Agatha awards for her series featuring likable heroine Tess Monaghan (Baltimore Blues; Charm City; The Last Place) solidifies her position in the upper tier of today's suspense novelists. Two 11-year-old children-good girl Alice Manning and bad girl Ronnie Fuller-wander homeward in Baltimore after being kicked out of a friend's pool party. They discover a baby in an unattended carriage by the front door of a house and steal it away. The reader watches in horror, knowing what will come next. The baby dies, and Alice and Ronnie are imprisoned for seven years. The mystery involves which girl did the killing, and which was the dupe. After release from prison, their blighted lives move inexorably toward further horror and tragedy. Lippman slowly relinquishes the facts of her story, building suspense as she reveals the past. Her well-honed prose is particularly suited to descriptions that impart more than just appearances: "Holly was one of those people who seemed to be put together with higher quality parts than everyone else"; "...there was something menacing in the very fineness of his bones, as if a bigger boy had been boiled down until all that remained was this concentrated bit of rage and bile." With this book, much darker than any in her past series, Lippman shows she is an author willing to take risks in both writing and storytelling. Her deft handling of this disturbing material is sure to increase the breadth of her readership.
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