After I'm Gone

After I'm Gone

4.0 27
by Laura Lippman

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Laura Lippman, the acclaimed New York Times bestselling author of The Most Dangerous Thing, I’d Know You Anywhere, and What the Dead Know, returns with an addictive story that explores how one man’s disappearance echoes through the lives of the wife, mistress, and daughters he left behind.

When Felix Brewer meets Bernadette “

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Laura Lippman, the acclaimed New York Times bestselling author of The Most Dangerous Thing, I’d Know You Anywhere, and What the Dead Know, returns with an addictive story that explores how one man’s disappearance echoes through the lives of the wife, mistress, and daughters he left behind.

When Felix Brewer meets Bernadette “Bambi” Gottschalk at a Valentine’s Dance in 1959, he charms her with wild promises, some of which he actually keeps. Thanks to his lucrative—if not all legal—businesses, she and their three little girls live in luxury. But on the Fourth of July, 1976, Bambi’s comfortable world implodes when Felix, newly convicted and facing prison, mysteriously vanishes.

Though Bambi has no idea where her husband—or his money—might be, she suspects one woman does: his mistress, Julie. When Julie disappears ten years to the day that Felix went on the lam, everyone assumes she’s left to join her old lover—until her remains are eventually found.

Now, twenty-six years after Julie went missing, Roberto “Sandy” Sanchez, a retired Baltimore detective working cold cases for some extra cash, is investigating her murder. What he discovers is a tangled web stretching over three decades that connects five intriguing women. And at the center is the missing man Felix Brewer.

Somewhere between the secrets and lies connecting past and present, Sandy will find the truth. And when he does, no one will ever be the same.

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Editorial Reviews

The New York Times - Janet Maslin
Although Ms. Lippman derived her story from the real-life disappearance of a Baltimore crook and also bases Sandy on a real homicide detective, this novel's murder case springs strictly from her own fecund imagination…Ms. Lippman is able to sustain a remarkable degree of detail about all these characters and still keep them sharply distinct and interesting.
Publishers Weekly
★ 12/23/2013
On July 4, 1976, shady businessman Felix Brewer escapes the law by fleeing suburban Maryland, leaving behind his wife, Bambi; three daughters; and a mistress, Julie Saxony. So begins bestseller Lippman's finely wrought study of what it means to move forward without answers. When Felix met Bambi in 1959, it was love at first sight. Without telling her how, he promised they'd get rich. And they did, even if he wasn't often home to enjoy it with her and their daughters. Julie—a stripper who loved Felix, despite knowing he'd never leave Bambi—wasn't even Felix's only bit on the side. When he ran, Felix made sure, or so he thought, that all his women would be looked after. Ten years later, Julie disappears. At first, rumors swirl that Felix came back for her, but when her remains turn up in a local park in 2001, the word on the street is that he killed her. Adept as always with character nuance, Lippman (And When She Was Good) uses Roberto "Sandy" Sanchez, a consultant who used to be a Baltimore cop, to dig into Julie's cold case, and to uncover the secrets of the women Felix left in his wake. Agent: Vicky Bijur, Vicky Bijur Literary. (Feb.)
Kirkus Reviews
★ 2013-10-20
The disappearance of a Baltimore gambling lord sends shock waves through his community, his business and his family. Felix Brewer always knew the odds were rigged. So, with the feds poised to put him away for 15 years, he has girlfriend Julie Saxony drive him to Philly in her sister's horse trailer to hop a plane to Montreal and then disappear. He knows that his best friends, lawyer Bert Gelman and bail bondsman Tubby Schroeder, will close down his business. And he trusts his wife, Bambi, to take care of herself and his three daughters, Linda, Rachel and Michelle. But how could Felix leave it all--the place he made for himself at the heart of Baltimore's Jewish community, the luxury and respectability he bought with every illegally bet dollar, and most of all, the love of his life? Since the night he'd crashed a high school dance, Bert, already an established businessman, knew Bambi Gottschalk would be the center of his world. And she was, despite Julie and the string of girls who preceded her. The story of Bambi and her daughters unfolds: struggles, successes, good marriages and bad. Then the discovery of Julie's body in Leakin Park brings it all back to Felix. Who intercepted Julie, whose success parlaying the modest coffee shop Felix left her into a bed-and-breakfast positioned her to open a destination restaurant, on her way to Saks? Sandy Sanchez, an ex-cop who specializes in cold cases, hopes to find out. Coaxing the inevitable out of the improbable, Lippman (And When She Was Good, 2012, etc.) is a bet you just can't lose.
Anna Quindlen
“I never miss Laura Lippman’s novels.”
Washington Post
“Lippman is as skillful at plot as she is at characters and setting, and the twists in the novel’s final pages are both surprising and satisfying. [...] Like everything else Lippman has written, “After I’m Gone” transcends the limits of genre.”
“smart and mesmerizing [...] an involving and elegant novel of the psychological ravages of crime”
Entertainment Weekly
“Equal parts love story, tragedy and murder mystery, Lippman’s latest thriller delivers twist and emotional depth with its tale of a philandering scheemer whose long-time mistress turns up dead years after he skipped town.”
the Oprah Magazine O
“In this edge-of-your seat tale, a man’s disappearance has unexpected consequences for the women he’s left behind.”
“pure delight.”
Houston Chronicle
O: the Oprah Magazine
“In this edge-of-your seat tale, a man’s disappearance has unexpected consequences for the women he’s left behind.”
Dallas Morning News
“Lippman is one of the deftest hands at whodunit around, and the great characters make for an engaging read.”

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Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
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8.60(w) x 12.20(h) x 1.80(d)

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After I'm Gone: A Novel 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 27 reviews.
XXXOOOBookwormOOOXXX More than 1 year ago
The novel slips in and out of each eventful decade, from the fateful Valentine's Day of 1959 when Felix and young, fresh-faced Bambi first met, to Felix's unannounced departure and the aftermath thereof, and finally, to Sandy's determined investigation. The toll Felix's desertion takes on Bambi—both financially and emotionally—as well as the way each of his well-fleshed daughters are affected, will raise great sympathy within readers, but will inevitably keep them on edge, itching to find out: how did Felix manage to leave without a trace, and why did he go without seeing to the well-being of his beloved family? I'm never sure whether I am going to like a Laura Lippman novel when it is missing Tess Monaghan or for that matter, when it has Tess Monaghan, but as long as it is still in her beloved Baltimore, it's all right with me. Laura Lippman is a superior storyteller and this is a deep and rich mystery.  This is a great thriller, a bit demanding as a read but quite satisfying as well, and it's made me reconsider this talented author  
TheStephanieLoves More than 1 year ago
Dead is dead. Missing is gone. Inspired by the Salsbury fraud scandal of the 1970s, After I'm Gone explores how the enigmatic Felix Brewer's sudden disappearance echoes through lives of his wife, daughters, and mistress—the five women he loved and left behind. Both a legal thriller and dazzling sashay through a span of decades, Lippman's newest novel is elaborate, emotionally charged, and deeply probing. In present-day Baltimore, as retired cop Sandy Sanchez reviews a cold case involving the murder of Julie Saxony—Felix's woman on the side—he notices there are discrepancies from every angle, from every testimony, and he can't help but grow intrigued by the seductive, unsolved story of Felix Brewer, his family, and how it could all be connected to a dead Julie Saxony. The novel slips in and out of each eventful decade, from the fateful Valentine's Day of 1959 when Felix and young, fresh-faced Bambi first met, to Felix's unannounced departure and the aftermath thereof, and finally, to Sandy's determined investigation. The toll Felix's desertion takes on Bambi—both financially and emotionally—as well as the way each of his well-fleshed daughters are affected, will raise great sympathy within readers, but will inevitably keep them on edge, itching to find out: how did Felix manage to leave without a trace, and why did he go without seeing to the well-being of his beloved family? After I'm Gone is such a well crafted, well explicated mystery novel. It combines an elaborate, arduous tangle of lies, secrets, and even sacrifice, with a sharp, fast-paced procession of revelations. These continuous shifts, shocking discoveries, and impending truths never stop surprising you until the very end, which I think is a fabulous ploy. It's one of those books where you think you have everything figured out until—bam!—something happens halfway through and changes the entire plot, and then, at the last few chapters, the same thing happens again—and again, and again—bam! bam! bam! The intimate, perplexing glimpses into the lives of the Brewer women through the years of a husbandless and fatherless development really bring the story to life. The way Felix's betrayal affects his daughters' marriages, senses of dignity, and identities transforms this high-stake detective novel into one with human disparities—faults of the flesh—and that's what made it so powerful for me. There's a purposefully vague, but consistently dark and pressing tone to the novel that's both eventful and stylistically entertaining. Readers remain in the dark about Felix's character, which makes him even more puzzling; but then again, it doesn't really matter because it's his reverberations that make up this book, not the man himself. This is the first Laura Lippman mystery I've read, but based off her commanding voice and complicated, wrenching storylines, she's an author I'm now more than eager to try again. Pros: Rich in historical detail and legalese // Addictive // Reminiscent of the extravagance and flair of the '50s and '60s // Contrived, complicated, original plot // Bambi and daughters are so well portrayed, so lifelike // Mystery seems impossible to solve, and remains unpredictable even until the very end // Weaves complex emotions about family and love within the crime // Will surprise you multiple times—not your average linear whodunnit // Thrilling, engaging Cons: Sandy isn't likable // Too detailed and slow-moving at times // Timeline gets confusing to keep up with Verdict: Sandy Sanchez doesn't know what he's in for when he takes on two details of a cold case that at first glance, other than the painfully obvious and quickly dismissed suspicions, have no plausible relation: the untimely appearance of Felix Brewer's mistress's dead body, and the means of survival the man's family turned to in his wake. Equal parts murder mystery and narrative family drama, After I'm Gone contains surprisingly touching wisdom about the tragedy of idealism and how nobody, no matter how beautiful their face or honest their soul, ever really gets what they want. Full of unstable alibis, tenderly guarded secrets, and the buildup of multiple unexpected but long-dreaded twists, Laura Lippman's latest crime novel provides soul-searing, electrifying insight on not only greed, selfishness, and cowardice, but also on identity, the gray areas between marriage and unfaithfulness, and the meaning of fatherly love. Rating: 8 out of 10 hearts (4 stars): An engaging read that will be worth your while; highly recommended. Source: Complimentary copy provided by publisher via tour publicist in exchange for an honest and unbiased review (thank you, Harper Collins and TLC!).
bookchickdi More than 1 year ago
Laura Lippman writes suspense novels with great characters. Her last book, And When She Was Bad, told the story of a suburban soccer mom who ran an escort service. Her newest, After I'm Gone, tells the story of the disappearance of Felix Brewer, a man who was a bookie, ran a strip club and when he is convicted in connection with his criminal activities, disappears, leaving behind a wife, three young daughters and a mistress. When his mistress disappears nearly ten years later to the day, questions once again arise about Felix. Did he send for his mistress Julie, the woman he left his only legitimate business to when he disappeared? Why did he leave no money behind for his wife Bambi and his three daughters? Julia's dead body turns up in the woods near Felix and Bambi's home, and this cold case ends up in the lap of Sandy Sanchez, an investigator/consultant for the District Attorney's office. Sandy chooses to pursue whatever cases he thinks he can solve, and Julie Saxony's intrigues him. He meets with her sister Andrea, who is believed to have helped Julie help Felix disappear. Andrea knows more than she is telling, but does she know who killed her sister? The story moves back in forth in time, from 1976 when Felix disappears, to 1991 when Julie's body turns up, to 2012, when Sandy begins his investigation. We get to see Bambi go from a teen in the throes of young love with Felix, to a lonely wife waiting for her husband to come home from the club to mom to three girls to a desperate woman struggling to maintain some kind of life for her girls to a  fiercely protective mom and grandmother. We see Felix and Bambi's girls grow up- Linda and Rachel, who remember their father, and Michelle, who was too young when Felix disappeared. Linda has a good job, marries and has children and seems to have settled into a life she likes. Rachel marries a guy she met in college. He was from a wealthy family who were none to happy to have Rachel and her notorious family story incorporated into their family. Her marriage doesn't work out, and Rachel ends up back home for awhile. Michelle seems to be floating through life, with no career or husband. While the the women's stories over the years are fascinating, Sandy has an intriguing one as well. He and his wife have a son, who ended up in an institution. His wife dies, and as she had a relationship with their son and Sandy did not, he is all alone. After Sandy interviews a woman who is caring for her debilitated husband, he thinks about his life.  One of the saddest lines in the entire book concerns his wife Mary and son Bobby, now an adult."Would Sandy have traded for more time with Mary if it had meant being with someone who wasn't really Mary? Would he have traded Bobby-as-he-was, now in his thirties and lost to him, for a normal Bobby who died at age five? You can rewrite your life all you want, Sandy thought. It's still a play where everyone dies in the end." Another line that got to me was "They say you're only as happy as your least happy child". Boy, does that line resonate for any parent. The suspense builds slowly, and throughout most of the novel, it remains in the back of the reader's mind as you get lost in the characters' lives. As Sandy closes in on Julie's killer, the tension builds and you remember, yes, it is a murder mystery that needs to be solved. And the solution is a doozy; after a few red herrings, it all comes together in a nail-biting conclusion. Fans of Lippman's novels featuring Private Investigator Tess Monaghan will be pleased to see a cameo of her here, and maybe looking forward to Sandy and Tess working together in a future book. I loved the characters, the story and the resolution, and once again Lippman has hit it out of the park.
gloriafeit More than 1 year ago
Laura Lippman is known for her wonderful series featuring p.i. Tess Monaghan, among other terrific books. So I started this book believing it to be a murder mystery, especially as it begins with the discovery of a dead body. But then it appeared that I was wrong, that it was instead a very interesting character study, or rather ‘studies,’ dealing as it does with a dysfunctional family, the wife and three daughters (as well as their significant others) of a fascinating man, Felix Brewer, rarely seen in these pages, the husband and father of these women, and others who were close to him. These latter included the lawyer and bail bondsman who were his best friends since their Baltimore high school days, and Julie, the younger mistress with whom he had cheated on his wife for several years as the story opens, which story encompasses a 35-year period. Felix met Bernadette (“Bambi”) when she was 19 years old at a Valentine’s Day dance and quickly swept her off her feet, marrying her soon after. (Valentine’s Day, New Year’s Eve, when Felix and Bambi married, and July 4th are significant dates in the story.) A bookmaker, he keeps her in very comfortable surroundings until he is arrested, convicted, and about to start serving a prison term when, on July 4th, 1976, he vanishes, with no clue as to his plans or his whereabouts, leaving his wife relatively impoverished, his mistress slightly less so. Ten years later, to the day, Julie vanishes as well, her dead body found soon after. The present-day narration begins 26 years later, when Roberto (“Sandy”) Sanchez, the Cuban-born retired Baltimore cop who, as a consultant working on cold cases for the police department, picks up the murder file. If all this was was a book encompassing character studies of each of these, it would very interesting reading. But that would be selling Ms. Lippman quite short: She has rendered a fascinating mystery, dealing with Brewer’s disappearance, his mistress’ murder, and the complex stories of the lives of these people, the detective on the case as well as all the others who make up the suspect group, each rendered in fine detail. Infidelity, in several manifestations, plays a large role in the plot. The author has fashioned an ending that you won’t see coming, even when you’re sure you do. (Parenthetically, the tie-in to Tess Monaghan near the book’s end was a delight.) As with all Ms. Lippman’s books, this one too is highly recommended.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Excellent, as are all her books. Good twist at the end. Loved how Tess Monaghan made an appearance at the end.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A sweet little story. I liked it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is more than a murder mystery; it's an engrossing study of one man's impact on those around him, and his how family and others cope in his absence. The people are interesting and I found myself investing in several of them, rooting for some and against others. The jumps back and forth between time periods were a little confusing at times, the only real drawback to the book. But the clever plot and intriguing situations kept me reading late into the night. This stand-alone book by Lippman features a cold-case cop named Sandy, a dogged and likeable addition to her world of sleuths.
TheBibliophilicBookBlog More than 1 year ago
AFTER I’M GONE is the story of Felix Brewer, his family, his fortune, and his mistress. In 1976, Felix Brewer disappears after he is convicted but before he is sent to prison. Ten years to the day Felix’s mistress, Julie Saxony, disappears and is found dead. It is twenty-six years after Julie’s initial disappearance and retired detective, Sandy Sanchez, who investigates cold cases, has picked this case to look into further. From the beginning, he’s struck by so many inconsistencies and conflicting information in the case. Digging deep, he must untangle the web Felix wove around his friends, wife, daughters, and mistress to find the truth. AFTER I’M GONE is inspired by true events and is given a beautiful fictional treatment. The story is suitably detailed with pieces of Baltimore locales and historical events, giving it a depth which only adds to the mystery. While the mystery seems to be the center point of the story, it’s truly the interactions between the well-developed and complex characters which brings AFTER I’M GONE to life. I was easily transported into the story through the author’s deft writing style. Laura Lippman is a local author for me and I’m surprised I’d never read any of her works before. This is an error I’m definitely going to rectify! AFTER I’M GONE is an insightful and compelling mystery.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
You won't be sorry if u buy. after i read one of her books i always feel its the best one she has written. One of her best!
Twink More than 1 year ago
I'm a long time Laura Lippman fan. My favourites are the Tess Monaghan novels, but Lippman's last few books have been stand alones. The latest is After I'm Gone. Sandy is a retired Baltimore cop, currently on contract with the BPD as a consultant, handling cold cases. When searching his files for the next case to handle, a picture of dancer Juliet Romeo falls out. and the next case is chosen. Juliet was the girlfriend of Felix Brewer in 1976. She was found dead ten years later and her murder was never solved. Felix also had a wife named Bambi and three daughters. When the feds decided Felix was going to prison for fraud, he decided he couldn't do the time - and disappeared. He left behind the two women and three girls, all who never knew where he went or what happened to him. Twenty six years later Sandy re-opens the case. Lippman's story flips from past to present and from the viewpoint of each of the women throughout the years. We're there at the beginning, meet the girls as they have grown, the women as they have aged and are with Sandy every step of the way as he explores the present, trying to find answers in the past. Although no one is very forthcoming. Lippman has created a rich story. The characters are very real, their emotions and actions tangible. Although I wondered 'whodunit', I was just as intrigued by the lives of these women and how Felix, even when absent, affected each of their paths. The secrets, lies, loves and hopes of each character was very well portrayed and explored. But the character I enjoyed the most by far was Sandy. He too has a rich back story that fleshed out his character. He's not a super sleuth solving everything with clever (and impossible) deductions, but is instead a very human, fallible man determined to find answers. I liked his voice and his way of thinking. I was pretty sure where the story was headed (and was quite happy about the journey there) when Lippman threw in one last twist, just to keep readers on their toes. Lippman herself lives in the Baltimore area which adds greatly to her settings and descriptions. When I finished the last pages of the book, I stopped and wondered about someone 'disappearing'. Is it possible? Are they ever successful at staying gone? And then I read the author's notes and discovered that the novel uses the true case of Julius Salsbury as inspiration. Devoted Laura Lippman fans will enjoy Crow's cameo (and Tess's too). By the final pages, I was thinking to myself that Sandy is a character I'd like to see more of. I may just get my wish - Lippman's next book, Hush, is due out in February 2015.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Good read
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Laura Lippman has written a smooth little mystery inspired by a true case (although not based on it). While the "who done it?" aspect is entertaining and captivating, it is her characters that really make this book sing.
Atthebeach More than 1 year ago
Good, intriguing thriller. Whodunit mystery that keeps you guessing. Moves around a lot from decade to decade and person to person. Have to keep the dates straight in your head. Not many clues along the way so the end was pretty surprising. But well written enough to enjoy and keep reading pretty quickly to the end. 
WIT-writer-in-training More than 1 year ago
Have read 16 of Laura Lippman's novels in the past ten years, and she is both current and insightful in her stories, bringing Baltimore alive in her narrative as if it is a recurring character. I was hesitant with this new release after reading some reviews, but am glad I didn't let any negative comments dissuade me. Rather than find it confusing as others claimed to, I found the storyline even more engaging as each character was depicted at various times ranging from 1959 to 2013. The writing was clear and details precise, as it all was cleverly woven together by the end. Adding the familiar and affable character Tess Monaghan was a welcome touch. I enjoy this author's work and look forward to more, thus most certainly recommend.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Liked this book alot.Didnt expect how it ended and kept you guessing .This was the first book I read of hers and I am glad I did
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Even though you do not love all the people in the book, the story was very good. Twists and turns that have you thinking the plot will go one way then it goes in a different direction
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Too many flashbacks. Hard to keep track of the characters.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is the first book by this author that I've read in a long time. Was glad it was a "stand alone" book since I haven't kept up with her books. The characters were interesting and their reactions to various situations were plausible. Greed on the part of two key characters was the precipitating "sin" that caused all the heartache and pain. The ending was a bit unexpected but made sense. So if you like books to tie up all the loose ends, you will find that this book offers a satisfying ending.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Lollibaby2 More than 1 year ago
"After I'm Gone" by Laura Lippman was one of my favorites. I have read her before but this is by far her best. The ending was surprising. I would highly recommend this book!
KrittersRamblings More than 1 year ago
Check out the full review at Kritters Ramblings Three sisters, a wife and a mistress are left behind by a man who flees before justice can be served and he may serve time.  This book takes a look at not only these five women and what they must go through when left behind, but his friends as well and how his cowardliness affects everyone.   Presented in a different way with alternating chapters - one chapter would be in the past while the next would be current as the Detective Sandy is undergoing his investigation into the cold case.  It was obvious as to what time it was and who was the center of the chapter, I loved reading about Sandy's discoveries and then the story behind the piece of evidence next.  
JulieMH More than 1 year ago
Felix and Bambi are married have 3 daughters. Felix's line of work is only at night. Bambi is a stay at home mom who wants for nothing, cause Felix only wants the best for him and his family. On July 4, 1976 Felix disappears, or could say leaves cause of facing jail time. Present day, Sandy is a retired cop working as a consultant with the Police Department trying to solve "cold cases." Sandy finds a photo of Julie which sparks his interest in her "cold case" murder. Julie was connected to Felix. Laura Lippman gives a great story line with all the main characters giving us their information about the time Felix left and what happened afterwards.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago