- Published: 2009
- Number of pages: 372 pages
- Format: Epub
- File Size: 0.56 MB
- Authors: Laura Lippman
When he’s called to the scene of an accident detective Kevin Infante is drawn into a shocking and puzzling crime that still haunts the Baltimore P.D. Twenty years ago, two little girls were kidnapped from a shopping mall, igniting fear and anger throughout the city.
Now, a clearly disoriented woman involved in the accident claims to be one of the missing girls. But instead of closing the case, her appearance marks the beginning of a nightmare that will once again rock Baltimore and threaten everyone it touches. The woman claims one of Baltimore’s beloved cops snatched her and her sister. Is it the truth-or the ravings of a damaged mind? There isn’t a shred of evidence to support her story: The cop is dead and her parents can’t verify the woman is even their daughter, for both girls were adopted and do not share their DNA. And who is the body in the unmarked grave the girl reveals?
With the department’s reputation, a dead man’s honor, and his own badge on the line, Infante must go back to a past he barely knows to find answers—and maybe even justice—once and for all.
One of the most acclaimed and honored writers in the field of crime fiction, Laura Lippman offers readers a gripping tale of deception and delusion, of family wounds and betrayals. Thirty years ago, the Bethany girls, ages eleven and fifteen, disappeared from a Baltimore shopping mall. They never returned, their bodies were never recovered, and only painful questions remain. Now, in the aftermath of a rush-hour hit-and-run accident, a clearly disoriented woman is claiming to be Heather, the younger Bethany sister. Not a shred of evidence supports her story, and every lead she reluctantly offers takes the police to another dead end—a dying, incoherent man; a razed house; a missing grave. But she definitely knows something about that terrible day—and about the shocking fissures that the tragedy exposed in the foundation of a seemingly solid family. About the Author Since Laura Lippman’s debut in 1997, she has been recognized as a distinctive voice in mystery fiction and named one of the “essential” crime writers of the last 100 years. Her books have won most of the major awards in her field and been translated into more than twenty languages. She lives in Baltimore and New Orleans with her daughter.
Reviews from Amazon users, collected at the time the book is getting published on UniedVRG. It can be related to shiping or paper quality instead of the book content:
⭐ Is there anything more frustrating to the reader than a book with unlocked potential? What the Dead Know could be a case study in just that sort of novel. Ms. Lippman is plainly a superb writer in terms of her mastery of language and ability to paint a picture. But the novel itself was agonizingly messy, like a draft that had accidentally been published before it was polished. The first few chapters had me hooked but then I got bogged down in the unnecessary, bloated backstory of every character. The book hops around in time, a device that usually works well in this genre, but simply does not here. Several of the characters seemed totally useless, or thrown in for a halfhearted, rushed love connection. These are notes that could have been made by any editor, anywhere. Done correctly, this book could have been great, but as it is, it needed refining in about twenty different ways to satisfy even the most forgiving reader. The only way I could advocate reading it was if it was a free galley copy and you had an abundance of red pens handy.
⭐ however, the author really annoyed this reader. First, let me say the book was great, the story was riveting. Kept my interest from the start. The characters were interesting, but now for what annoyed me. The author made the older characters out to be almost senile. Someone in their 60’s is hardly considered old these days. Wiloughby, the retired detective was made out to be forgetful and needing his daily nap, for example. So, being in my early 70’s this annoyed me no end, thus, the loss of a star.
⭐ Laura Lippman is skilled at creating stories that have more twists and turns that a country road. What the Dead Know is a perfect example of her talent. From the first page she sets up the mystery, presenting the main character caught up in a situation she did not foresee and is ill prepared for. With flashbacks, different characters perspectives, and a puzzle thirty years old the story carried me along, irresistibly drawn into the intrigue. After a car accident on an icy road a young woman is taken to a local hospital. With no identification she is pressed by the authorities to reveal who she is. The vehicle she is driving is registered to Penelope Jackson. But is that her identity? She confesses to the young police officer she is “one of the Bethany girls”, sisters who went missing before the officer was even born. She then reveals her knowledge of a murder that occurred years earlier. Police and hospital workers suspect she is a “faker”, lying to cover up something. Refusing to give any information she is logged as “Jane Doe”. This sets the tone for a story that sends investigators following leads that often end in dead ends because witnesses have died. Meanwhile with the assistance of a hospital social worker, Kay Sullivan, she acquires a lawyer, Gloria Bustamante. When questioned again about her identity she invokes the name of the Bethany sisters refusing any more details until she meets with her lawyer. Joined by Baltimore County Homicide detective Kevin Infante the investigation begins, questions fly, and the search for answers is on. This is a gripping tale that pulled me in and dragged me along trying to solve the mystery. When the truth is finally revealed I almost leaped out of my chair. I never saw it coming! The characters are richly described and the transitions between them are well handled. Descriptions of different locations and time periods are spot on and carried me along comfortably. This is easily my favorite book by Lippman. In fact this may top my list of mystery thrillers; it is so effective in building suspense and resolving the story neatly.
⭐ It’s hard to know exactly how to categorize Laura Lippman’s remarkable, effective, haunting mystery novel What the Dead Know. On one level, this is undeniably a mystery novel, one in which a woman walking away from an accident admits to being one of two young girls who disappeared from a shopping mall nearly thirty years before. Is she lying? Is she crazy? Or could she be telling the truth – in which case, what exactly happened thirty years ago, and why has she been missing for so long – and where is her sister?That’s a good hook for a mystery novel, and Lippman lets the novel reveal its cards slowly and with perfect pacing, giving us windows into the disappearance and hints about the girls while never offering real answers – only clues and misdirections – until she’s ready for the big reveal – which comes along with a pretty genuine surprise that I didn’t see coming, as well as an explanation that’s satisfying and makes sense of the actions we’ve seen so far.But if all the novel was was this mystery, it would be fascinating, but not as rich as it is. No, what makes What the Dead Know so powerful is the way it becomes a faceted, complex exploration of grief and loss, one that finds new takes on the topic through all of the book’s many characters, through the slow passage of time that the book covers, and maybe most effectively, in the way we wash the marriage of the girls’ parents slowly come apart over years and years together. Lippman alternates between the present-day mysteries and periodic check-ins on the family in the past, but each flashback jumps a large swath of time, allowing us to feel the slow, inexorable way that the mysterious loss becomes just another thing to live with. It’s a complex way to handle the mystery, but one that lets Lippman not only look at the disappearance itself, but on the effects such a thing would have on those left behind, and the toll it would take.With a solid mystery and this thematic richness, What the Dead Know is a fast read you’re going to struggle to put down; it moves beautifully along, sweeping you up in its characters’ lives while also egging you on to unravel the bizarre mystery at its core. And if some of the modern characters never quite fit into the book – I’m thinking especially of the womanizing police detective – they’re still well-realized and well-written, helping to bring the book to life even if they don’t quite feel like they fit thematically. It’s a great read, and one that might linger with you in ways you don’t expect – ways more powerful and human than a typical mystery novel.
⭐ In 1976, two young girls, Sunny and Heather Bethany, went missing from Baltimore.Now, thirty years later, a young woman with no identification, dubbed Jane Doe, has an auto accident that leads to a series of statements on her part, and a joint effort by police, a social worker, and an attorney to discern the truth in what she has to say.Could she, as she claims, be Heather Bethany? If not, why does she know so many details of the events, as well as private information that only an “insider” could have? What the Dead Know was narrated by various players in the story, from Miriam and Dave Bethany, the parents, to the present day investigators. We also read the narrative of the Jane Doe character, and try to ascertain her credibility.Flashbacks convey much of the story through these narrators, and as the story unfolds, we are soon trying to decide if we believe Jane Doe’s statements, or if she has conned us.I found the details about how the character achieved her numerous identities to be fascinating, and much in line with what we know about how such new identities are obtained. I liked this quote: “Like a bird who moved into abandoned nests, she had inhabited the lives of long-dead girls…”In the final twist, which I did not see coming, the facts and details came together to give us a most satisfying conclusion. While not my favorite book by this author, I still will not forget it, and enjoyed the numerous ins and outs and twists and turns. 4 stars.
⭐ This book is quite a departure from Laura Lippman’s Tess Monaghan series. It’s somewhat darker than her books featuring Tess, but it isn’t dismal. More of a who-is-it than a whodunnit, What the Dead Know will keep you guessing right up to the end. My only complaint with the book is that one of the main characters undergoes a seemingly unintended, from the writer’s perspective, personality change. I’ve seen this phenomenon in other books too, as if the writer needs to adjust a character to fit in with the planned ending. Other than that, this is a very enjoyable book, one I highly recommend.
⭐ Don’t read this if you haven’t already read the book. First, the book is spectacular and also quite disturbing. It’s one of the best I’ve read in a long time. I couldn’t put it down with all its twists and turns. That said, the book, although chronologically beginning in the ‘70’s shows us that little has changed in the present day. Children are abducted and murdered. Children are abused and neglected with their voices going largely still unheard. When a child cries for help or states that they are being hurt or molested, they are often not believed initially or at all. And if so, they are of returned to their abuser(s) under the context the abuser(s) have been rehabilitated. In this case a police officer makes the choice to not only co-abduct a child but also turns a blind eye to the abuse the child endures for years to come. Never mind that he helps her years later because he has true remorse but by then the psychological damage is irreversible. She (the abducted Bethany girl) stumbles about life with no real identity and decades later still remains that young girl psychologically because she can’t bear the rest. At the time of the abduction and all the years to follow no one sees her at any point even though she is right in front of their eyes. And she is so brainwashed that she believes if she tells someone on the outside the truth it will be disastrous and she is better off staying quiet. This completely destroys her until the one day she finally breaks down and says who she is. Her Lawyer believes and eventually the Social Worker. But the police do not and treat her as a criminal until the very end. It is her mother, when she is finally told after weeks that she’s possibly been found, that identifies her daughter. The police officer, Infante, is the worst of all. He surmises at the end that the police officer who held her captive all those years was only doing what any parent would do. Really?!! And his partner, Nancy, wasn’t much better until the end. And then not much. Willoughby, the retired policeman initially assigned to the case, is the only policeman who truly feels remorse for not seeing her right under his nose all the time. To summarize:There are so many lost children out there today who are abused and neglected in many different circumstances and they have no voice. Thank you, Laura Lippman for writing this timely piece. It struck my heart. We as adults need to show children out there that they are heard and that there is unconditional love.
⭐ This is the story of the reappearance–maybe–after 30 years of one of two missing sisters. Most of it is so very sad–devastated parents, kidnapped and abused little girl. I plodded through it because I wanted to know the resolution to the puzzle. Was the mysterious woman arrested for a traffic violation really Heather Bethany?The resolution came, the book ends marginally happier than the tone of the entire book. I am not impressed enough to read another Lippmann; not my kind of mystery.
⭐ “What the Dead Know” is a well-written and well-executed mystery surrounding a 30-year-old closed case involving two missing sisters and no real clues as to the abductor or the purpose. The reader will puzzle with the detectives, who try to confirm or deny the identity of a woman involved in a traffic accident and claiming to be the younger sister, but then she refuses to provide conclusive details to prove her identity–though she seems to be privy to some details that only the girls would have known. Further, every piece of information she provides as evidence seems to lead to a dead end that cannot be proved or disproved after so much time. The story’s premise, logic and mystery are well developed, with the conclusion explaining some of the earlier discrepancies that should pop out to the reader. As the reader advances through the story, the possible explanations will abound, perhaps even the actual conclusion will bump through the reader’s mind–though that particular scenario is one that only the most discerning of readers will be able to pick up on. While a very good novel that is recommended to anyone interested in mysteries, particularly those involving missing children, there are some aspects that would make the reader question the context of those particular aspects. For instance, there is no real, believable explanation of why the mystery woman flees the scene of the opening traffic accident, nor an explanation of her missing wallet at any point in the book–either by herself or any other character. And, while there is an explanation of why the mother ends up in Mexico, the provided explanation of her decision to live in Mexico doesn’t ring true, perhaps relying on too many details in order to explain the necessary element of foreign residence. Without wanting to reveal too much, there is also a somewhat farfetched explanation of a police officer’s income and his involvement with commercial activity and the various trusts that result; however, such explanation would be entirely believable to readers truly unfamiliar with the intricacies that would be involved in such a situation. All-in-all, and though there are a few type-o’s (the Kindle version), this is an excellent writing that is easily recommended to any mystery reader.
⭐ I enjoyed the book. It kept my interest and surprised me at the end. Good pool read. The only part I didn’t care for was the oversexed detective. His sexual background and observations of women added nothing to the book. I could see if he were a main character in a series but otherwise a waste of time.
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