by Laura Lippman
Book list Lippman has won just about every mystery writing award there is--the Edgar, the Agatha, the Anthony, the Shamus, and the Nero Wolfe--for her Tess Monaghan series. This is her first stand-alone mystery, one in which the detectives are consigned to bit parts. The fact that the police here do little save go through the motions underscores the fatalistic feeling at the core of this dark domestic tragedy. Lippman writes the kind of opening that should make readers feel they're following helplessly as a nightmare slowly unfolds. Two 10-year-old girls, bounced from a birthday party for bad behavior, discover a baby in a carriage on the sidewalk and deem it necessary to save her. Lippman leaves the reader knowing something terrible happened but unsure what it was until the narrative progresses to seven years later, when the two girls are released from prison and return to their homes, six blocks away from the house to which they brought untold grief. The girls have to adjust to a new prison of neighborhood suspicion. Then, as the girls make somewhat of a new life, children start disappearing, and then reappearing, until one toddler is well and truly missing. Lippman doesn't write a standard whodunit here but plays with reader expectations of what should happen next. A startling page-turner. --Connie Fletcher Copyright 2003 Booklist
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.
Library Journal With her first stand-alone novel (after seven mysteries featuring Baltimore PI Tess Monaghan, the latest being The Last Place), Lippman proves equally adept at character-based psychological suspense. Seven years after Olivia Barnes, a black baby from a prominent family, dies at the hands of two 11-year-old white girls, children start disappearing for brief periods. Then a three-year-old is presumed kidnapped, with bloody evidence left behind. Suspicion points toward the two girls convicted of the earlier crime, now newly released from juvenile detention: Alice Manning, the "good girl" who claimed she was not there when Olivia died, and Ronnie Fuller, the "bad girl" and presumed murderer. This is not easy subject matter, with children as both victims and perpetrators, but the novel is notable not only for Lippman's skill in creating complex female characters-particularly the mothers of Olivia and Alice as well as the two girls themselves-but also for her subtle way of building suspense by ever so gradually revealing the true accounts of both the earlier and the current crimes. Essential for popular fiction collections, particularly for fans of Ruth Rendell and Minette Walters.-Michele Leber, formerly with Fairfax Cty. P.L., VA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Publishers Weekly 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. (Sept. 2) Forecast: Look for this one to garner critical praise with a sales boost to follow. Fans will hope to see series hero Tess Monaghan-who seemed a bit tired in her last outing-back on the page soon, reinvigorated from her time off. Major ad/promo; eight-city author tour. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved