Sunday, May 13, 2012

The Most Dangerous Thing by Laura Lippman — 368 pgs

Friends for only a brief amount of time, Gwen, Mickey, Sean, Tim and Gordon spent every moment together. The five spent their time playing made up games, foraging in the woods, and making connections that they thought would last a lifetime. Now, many years later, Gordon is dead under suspicious circumstances, and as the others try to understand what happened to their gregarious and troubled friend, secrets about the night the group’s closeness melted away begin to surface. Although the four have kept a horrible secret hidden for many years, it seems that before his death, Gordon set off a chain of events that may lead to the exposure of a tragedy that none of them fully understand. One by one they begin to realize that though their lives have changed drastically since that night in the woods, they’ve carried over the suspicion and sadness into their current existences, and as each one moves forward, they have no choice but to regress. Following the clues that Gordon left behind, they ultimately reveal the truth behind that night that will force them to once again bind themselves together, against their better instincts. A tale of five friends whose secrets and redemptions lie within each other, Lippman creates a story unlike any she has written before, one full of both generosity and manipulation, combined in just the perfect proportions.

Lippman is an author whom I love. Although I’ve not read any of the books in her Tess Monaghan series, I’ve read almost all of her standalone novels, and she never fails to impress me. This book is a departure for Lippman, as it combines a multifaceted coming of age tale with the suspense and mystery that she is known for. It was the kind of book that I love reading: complex characters juggling inner turmoil and outward nonchalance, and a mystery that seems clear cut but is anything but. Lippman’s new direction fascinated me and kept me very eager to untie the knot that she so skillfully ties.

This was not only the story of five friends hiding a secret; it had the added aspects of a multi-generational tale as well. As Lippman explores the lives of this group, she also dissects the relationships of their parents, which turns out to be a brave move. This story could have been much too messy and overpopulated, but in fact, there was a succinct and interesting weaving of each character into the ever-undulating plot, making this a very exciting mixed genre read. The parents of each member of the group have a huge role to play here, and the importance of their actions and interactions was not lost on me.

It was interesting that these five came together, as they were very different and seemed to have no common ground. Sean, Tim, and Gordon were brothers, but that doesn’t mean they were friends. In fact, there was a lot of competition between Sean and Tim, with Gordon, the youngest, following behind in a cloud of adoration and mimicry that each member of the group exploited. The women, Gwen and Mickey, were different as night and day. Gwen, the more refined of the two, never knew where she stood with the others, while Mickey, the uniquely beautiful tomboy, never really cared. All of these characters were somewhat unlikeable, but their behavior and actions made it difficult not to be interested in them.

Lippman does a lot in this novel. While she manages to capture the moment when a child loses their innocence, she’s also very adept at tackling themes that are sure to hit home with every reader. To say more would be spoiling the plot. Suffice it to say that Lippman manages to be on the cutting edge of relevancy, and her characters turn out to be surprisingly forward thinking and forgiving. The last few pages of this book were mesmerizing, as I felt that Lippman was tackling issues that I had not seen written about before.

This was another case where Lippman hit it out of the park for me. I’ve grown to love her writing and the style she utilizes in telling her stories, but I think this one was my favorite by far. Rhapsody Jill has already enticed me with her reviews of the Tess Monaghan series, so I better get movin’, time’s a- wasting! A great read that will keep you wondering until the final pages. Recommended.

Author Photo About the Author

Laura Lippman grew up in Baltimore and returned to her hometown in 1989 to work as a journalist. After writing seven books while still a full-time reporter, she left the Baltimore Sun to focus on fiction. The author of two New York Times bestsellers, What the Dead Know and Another Thing to Fall, she has won numerous awards for her work, including the Edgar, Quill, Anthony, Nero Wolfe, Agatha, Gumshoe, Barry, and Macavity.

To learn more about Laura’s work, visit her website or connect with her on Facebook.

TLC Book Tours A warm thanks to TLC Book Tours for providing this book for me to read and review. Please continue to follow the tour by visiting these other blogs:

Tuesday, May 1st:Wordsmithonia
Wednesday, May 2nd:Sara’s Organized Chaos
Thursday, May 3rd:Book Journey
Monday, May 7th:Life in Review
Wednesday, May 9th:Life is Short. Read Fast.
Monday, May 14th:Kritters Ramblings
Monday, May 14th:Raging Bibliomania
Tuesday, May 15th:Colloquium
Friday, May 18th:Laura’s Reviews
Monday, May 21st:Proud Book Nerd
Friday, May 25th:Book Him Danno!
Tuesday, June 5th:Drey’s Library

This book was provided as a complimentary review copy.


Beth F said...

I've only read a couple of her books but I agree that her writing is terrific. Glad this was another winner.

Jenny said...

I have actually not read any Lippman books yet, but I'm definitely interested in this "cutting edge of relevancy" topic that she addresses!

bermudaonion said...

Books that center around secrets like that always intrigue me. This sounds amazingly good.

Sheila (Bookjourney) said...

I am glad you liked this one! I struggled a bit with it, but overall found it to be good.

Kaye said...

Wow, sounds great. You had me at "secrets and multi-generational tale". Fabulous review!

rhapsodyinbooks said...

I've read mixed reviews of this one so I haven't read it, but as you know I love Lippman! But I also felt she was sort of falling off toward the end of the Tess series.

Audra said...

Oooh, your favorite Lippman so far?! My wife loves Lippman's stand alone novels and short fiction so I must get this for her!

Jenna said...

Sounds like a good pick for my first Lippman novel! I love that she is able to combine so many elements into one cohesive work. That says a lot about her talent as a writer. Also, I must say that I absolutely love your book summaries! They make a book sound even more appealing. Great review today.

Suko said...

This must be great, given your review which describes it as hit "out of the park". I will definitely keep an eye out for this book. Excellent review, as usual.

Jenners said...

Well, I guess we'll have to agree to disagree on this one. This one didn't work for me at all, and I felt really disappointed with it. I'm glad you were happy with it though!

Ti said...

I've only read one book by Lippman and that was enough. The characters were a bit flat for me. I think it was called, I'd Know You Anywhere. You always make the books sound so good though :)

Vasilly said...

This book sounds so good. You're right that sometimes when books have a lot of characters things can get messy. Glad this one didn't.

Aarti said...

I've never read any Lippman before, but if you love her so much, I really should give her a try! I don't think she's much my style, but Ti is right above- you always DO make books sound great :-)

Stacy at The Novel Life said...

what a beautiful review! i've read one of her novel and also found her writing to be mesmerizing. you have made this one sound like a winner of epic proportions!

Athira said...

I've read only one Lippman book and unfortunately that didn't go too well for me. But I am intrigued that you love her books. In that case, I want to try more of her books - maybe I just started with the wrong one. Thanks for this recommendation!

geosi said...

Interesting thoughts, interesting review, Zibilee. Before I read your review, the title had me thinking.

Unknown said...

In the beginning of your review, I felt like this was a story I'd heard before but the more I read the more excited I felt at the prospect of reading this book! I've only read one book by Lippman (sad, I know) but as I read your review, I was reminded of how much I enjoyed her writing and character development. This story sounds especially captivating. I like the combination of coming of age and mystery along with how the past impacts the characters present lives.
this is definitely a book I want to read along with many of Lippman's others.

Lisa said...

Sold! I've only read one Lippman book and really liked it a lot. This one is definitely coming home with me soon!

Heather J. @ TLC Book Tours said...

I'm so glad this latest by Lippman lived up to your expectations! Thanks for being a part of the tour.

Laura's Reviews said...

Good review. This one fell flat for me, but I have adored other Lippman novels.

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