This is Laura Lippman at her best. This is a book about childhood friends, secrets and growing up too fast. Her new novel reminded me a lot of Dennis Lehane’s MYSTIC RIVER in that it is about childhood friends who make decisions and choices that have consequences they cannot imagine.
Lippman packs so much into the novel as she jumps between present day Baltimore and the Baltimore of the 1970s and 80s. She juxtaposes the two time periods perfectly especially the differences in childhoods and parenting in each era.
The book opens with a car accident. The man behind the wheel has had a troubled life battling the bottle and personal demons. His funeral brings back together four friends who drifted apart after a fateful evening in 1979. An incident occurred that each has kept secret for over thirty years. Meeting each other again dredges up memories from the past and we learn how these friends met and ultimately fell apart.
But it is not only the childhood friends who have a secret. Their parents have also been hiding their involvement in events. As each character digs deeper into what really happened they each discover that the secret they thought they’ve been hiding is quite different from the actual truth that has been buried.
If you haven’t read Laura Lippman before you are missing out. Her books are much more than mysteries and examine some fascinating issues. The inter-relationship between childhood, parenting, marriage and secrets is utterly compelling in this new novel. This book is one of the many reasons I count Laura Lippman as one of my favourite writers.