(Image from Barnes & Noble)
Felix Brewer, an extravagant show-off who makes his dough off several businesses (some legal, some not), is facing prison time when he vanishes into thin air. His disappearance shocks his wife and two daughters, throwing their comfortable lives of luxury into a wild tailspin. The three Brewers have no idea what has happened to their husband and father, but what about his 23-year-old mistress, Julie Saxony? Does she know more about Felix's whereabouts than she's letting on?
Julie's disappearance—exactly a decade later—seems to indicate that she's finally flown off to meet up with her man. Until her remains are discovered in Leakin Park almost 20 years after she went missing. Maybe she knew where Felix was, maybe she didn't. Whatever secrets Julie harbored, they went with her to the grave.
Intrigued by the very cold case, retired Baltimore police detective Sandy Sanchez decides to investigate Julie's murder. As he digs into her colored past, he discovers an alarming web of lies, many of which center on one person: Felix Brewer. What really happened to the enigmatic fugitive? Did Julie Saxony die because of her connection to him? Or was her death unrelated? As Sandy untangles the threads of deceit that bind five women to Felix, he will discover some very shocking truths about one of Baltimore's greatest unsolved mysteries.
After I'm Gone, a mystery by Laura Lippman, was inspired by the real, unsolved case of Julius Salsbury, a Baltimore bookie who vanished instead of facing a possible 15-year sentence in federal prison. As colorful as his true-life counterpart, Felix Brewer makes for an alluring central character. The mystery of his disappearance is intriguing enough, but After I'm Gone focuses less on Felix's case, more on the characters and their relationships with one another. All of Lippman's story people are complex, flawed and captivating in their own ways, making their individual tales just as interesting as Felix's. The story's slow, steady build-up creates plenty of tension, forging a plot that's as exciting as it is compelling. With enough twists to keep me reading, I found After I'm Gone quite riveting indeed. Overall, I enjoyed it.
(Readalikes: Hm, I can't really think of anything. Can you?)
If this were a movie, it would be rated:
for language, violence, and sexual content
To the FTC, with love: I received a finished copy of After I'm Gone from the generous folks at HarperCollins. Thank you!