Wednesday, August 07, 2019

Despite Intriguing Premise, Crime Novel A Little Disappointing

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

Fifteen years ago, two young women vanished from a Baltimore shopping mall, never to be seen again.  The sisters' mysterious disappearance baffled local police then and continues to puzzle cold case enthusiasts now.  How does someone lure away a tween and a teen at the same time?  If the girls were kidnapped and held, where are they now?  If they were killed, where are there bones?  If they ran away together, why haven't they ever returned?  The questions only lead to more questions.  

Then, a 38-year-old woman is involved in a car accident.  When questioned by the police, she claims to be Heather Bethany, the youngest of the missing girls.  Although "Jane Doe" knows enough details about the case to be convincing, the holes in her story are enough to make Detective Kevin Infante doubt the woman is who she claims to be.  The few clues "Jane" is willing to part with only lead to dead ends.  Is the woman just toying with the police to get attention?  Does she know what really happened to Heather and Sunny Bethany fifteen years ago?  Will a 15-year-old crime finally be solved?  Or will the police be left, once again, with more mystifying questions that lead absolutely nowhere?

I find the missing returned trope utterly fascinating, so I'm always drawn to novels like What the Dead Know by Laura Lippman.  Perhaps it's because I've already read several novels with similar plots that I found this one a bit disappointing.  True, What the Dead Know is a tense, fast-paced thriller that kept me frantically turning pages.  Still, with its unlikeable characters, predictable end, and depressing vibe, I didn't end up loving this one.  I didn't hate it either; I just feel kind of ... ambivalent about it.  I've enjoyed other books by Lippman, but What the Dead Know just didn't quite do it for me.  Bummer.


Grade:


If this were a movie, it would be rated:


for strong language, violence, sexual content, and disturbing subject matter

To the FTC, with love:  Another library fine find

5 comments:

  1. That's too bad. It's a premise I always find fascinating, too.

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  2. I'm a Laura Lippman fan, but that was pretty much the same reaction I had to this one.

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  3. Too bad this one didn't measure up. You can't love them all, although I agree, Laura Lippman usually writes winners. Hopefully, just a blip.

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  4. I enjoy Lippman's series (well about the handful of books I've read in it) and I read all her stand-alones.

    I read this when it first came out-- and unfortunately-- I can't think of any of the plot without some minor prodding from you. I don't think this is one of her more enjoyable or memorable titles-- it happens :(

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  5. I also like cold case stories. I am reading The Ruin by Dervla McTiernan right now and enjoying it.

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