Every Secret Thingby Laura Lippman
On a July afternoon two little girls, banished from a birthday party, take a wrong turn onto an unfamiliar Baltimore street - and encounter an abandoned stroller with a baby inside it. Dutiful Alice Manning and unpredictable Ronnie Fuller only want to be helpful, to be good. People like children who are good, Alice thinks. But whatever the girls' real intentions,… See more details below
On a July afternoon two little girls, banished from a birthday party, take a wrong turn onto an unfamiliar Baltimore street - and encounter an abandoned stroller with a baby inside it. Dutiful Alice Manning and unpredictable Ronnie Fuller only want to be helpful, to be good. People like children who are good, Alice thinks. But whatever the girls' real intentions, things go horribly awry and three families are destroyed.
Seven years later Alice and Ronnie are heading home again - only separately this time, their fragile bond long shattered, their secrets still closely kept. Advised to avoid each other, they enter a world where they essentially have no past. In exchange, they are promised a fresh start, the chance to mold their own future.
That promise is broken when a child disappears, under disturbingly similar circumstances. And the adults in Alice's and Ronnie's lives - the parents, the lawyers, the police - realize that they must now confront the shattering truths they couldn't face seven years earlier. Or another mother will lose her child.
Homicide detective Nancy Porter was a rookie cop when she solved the original case with a bit of freakish luck - and almost derailed her own career. Adept at finding the small things that can make or break a homicide case, now she must master the larger picture in order to understand where guilt truly lies. For no one is innocent in this world. Not even the children.
When two 11-year-old white girls kill a toddler, the granddaughter of a beloved back judge, it's not only shocking -- it's news. The girls' motives are muddled, and they disagree about which one of them killed the child, but Alice Manning and Ronnie Fuller both are found guilty and sentenced to spend the rest of their childhood in jail. The penal code can do no more, so seven years later Alice and Ronnie are released to begin their lives again…if they can. At first, when children start to disappear, they're quickly found unharmed, so the kidnappings go almost unnoticed -- until one little girl, also a toddler and the sister of the judge's murdered granddaughter, vanishes without a trace. Her mother is frantic -- and certain she knows whom to blame. The press and the police are swamped, digging into the evidence, past and present. Alice's lawyer is rushing to her defense. Ronnie is on the run. And the baby's time is running out…. Every Secret Thing is a powerful, intricately plotted stand-alone suspense novel from the author of the award-winning Tess Monaghan mystery series. Sue Stone
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Read an Excerpt
Every Secret ThingA Novel
By Laura Lippman
Harper Collins PublishersCopyright © 2003 Laura Lippman All right reserved. ISBN: 0060506679
"Interesting," the ophthalmologist said, rolling away from Cynthia Barnes in his wheeled chair, like a water bug skittering for cover when the lights went on in the middle of the night.
"Not exactly my favorite word in a doctor's office." Cynthia tried to sound lighthearted. The metal apparatus was cold and heavy on her face, and although it wasn't literally attached, she couldn't help feeling as if she were in a vise. Each flick of the doctor's wrist - Better here? Or here? Here? Or here? - seemed to tighten the machine's grip on her.
"Good interesting," he said, rolling back to her. "Now, is it clearer with the first one or" - he flipped something, inserted something, she had never been sure what he was doing - "or this one."
"Could I see those again?" She sounded tentative, even to her ears, which shamed her. Cynthia still remembered what she was like back when she was always sure about things.
"Absolutely. This one" - the letter O, bold but a little wavy around the edges, as if it were underwater - "or this one." This O was not quite as bright, yet it was clearer.
"The second one?"
"There are no right answers here, Cynthia. An eye exam isn't a test." He chuckled at his own wit.
"The second one."
"Good. Now is it better with this one or" - another flip - "this one."
"The first one. Definitely the first one."
She felt a little glow of pride, then embarrassment for caring at all. She had arrived at the doctor's office on a wave of apologies, having skipped her annual exam for the last three years, despite the friendly little postcards that arrived every spring. She was AWOL from the dentist, too. And she might have passed on this eye exam, if it weren't for her younger sister's sly observation that Cynthia was squinting more often these days. "You keep straining like that, you're going to have one of those little dents," said Sylvia, who had never forgiven Cynthia for getting the one pair of green eyes in their generation. "Better reading glasses than Botox."
Cynthia had almost snapped: Get off my damn back, I've earned that dent. Instead she had made this appointment with Dr. Silverstein, who had moved to the northern suburbs since she saw him last.
Satisfied, Dr. Silverstein swung the machine off her face, returned her contact lenses to her, along with a tissue to catch the saline tears that flowed from the corners of her eyes. He was younger than she, it dawned on her. He must have just been starting out when she first went to him thirteen years ago. She wondered how those years had treated him, if his life had gone according to his expectations and plans.
"Well, I've seen this before, "Dr. Silverstein said, smiling so broadly that his dimples showed, "but I've seen few cases as pronounced as this."
Cynthia was not comforted by the smile. She had known too many people whose expressions had nothing to do with what they were about to say.
"What? What?" I'm going blind, I have a tumor behind one of my eyes, which explains the headaches. But she hadn't told Dr. Silverstein about the headaches. Should she?
"Your eyes are getting better, Cynthia. We see this sometimes in people who have worn contact lenses for a long time. Nearsightedness improves. You've been having trouble focusing on things because your contacts are old and pocked by protein deposits, not because you need a new prescription."
"What about reading glasses?"
"Good. I've heard that if you get reading glasses, your close-up vision gets worse and worse."
"Ah, yes, that old wives'tale. It doesn't quite work that way." Dr. Silverstein picked up a model of the human eye, which Cynthia found disgusting. She hated to visualize what lay beneath the fragile veneer of skin, always had. She was nauseated at the sight of flattened squirrels and cats in her eighborhood, and a passing glimpse of one of those surgery shows on cable could send her into a near faint.
"There's a muscle that controls the lens of your eye, if you will. It gets rigid with age ... " His voice trailed off when he realized Cynthia was staring over his shoulder, refusing to make eye contact with him or his plastic model. "Anyway, no reading glasses yet, just a new contact lens prescription. These should be ready in a week. Should the nurse call you at home or at work?"
"Home. I haven't worked in years."
Dr. Silverstein blinked, suddenly awkward. He was one of the people who had never had a chance to say, "I'm sorry," because the tragedy was almost a year in the past by the time he saw her at her annual exam. Cynthia's life was full of such acquaintances, well-meaning types who had been left stranded by the tenuousness of their connection. Doctors, mechanics, accountants. She remembered the April immediately following, when Warren asked the accountant how one calculated for a dependent who had not survived the calendar year. Did they take the full credit, or did Olivia's death mean they had to prorate the deduction? For Warren and Cynthia, who had already asked a thousand questions they had never planned to ask - questions about burials and caskets and plots and the scars left by autopsies - it was just another dreary postscript. The accountant had looked so stricken she had wanted to comfort him.
She was beyond that now.
Excerpted from Every Secret Thing by Laura Lippman
Copyright © 2003 by Laura Lippman
Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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This book is so good that I slowed down my reading because I don't want it to end... I've already purchased more of her books... enjoy it and savor it !!!
I have read several of Laura Lippman's books and have yet to be disappointed. She has the 'double-whammy' of good plots and well-drawn characters. I have never found her books slow moving - on the contrary - I can hardly turn the pages fast enough.
I agree w/another reviewer. I also slowed my reading pace to keep this gem of a book from ending. I was locked in from page one. The pace was positively dizzying. I agree that Cynthia does come off completely unsympathetic but that is my only gripe. I found Ronnie & Alice both engaging, interesting, & surprising. I enjoyed the way Ms. Lippman slowly fleshed out their individual personalities. My mind automatically assumed so many things & I was pleasantly surprised on more than occasion. I enjoy what I call a "twisty" book, and baby, this book is twisty. Try it. You'll be glad you did!
This is the first Laura Lippman novel I've read, and on the whole it's an intriguing, well-thought out mystery/drama with some surprising twists and turns. That being said, there is one flaw that I simply could not overlook or ignore...the completey self-absorbed, unlikeable characters, especially Cynthia Barnes, the mother of the murdered baby Olivia. I wanted to feel sympathy for her for her loss, because what a terrible loss it was, but I just could not. The character of Cynthia was a cold, haughty, nasty woman who believed the world should revolve around her, and she was portrayed this way in flashbacks of her life even before her child was killed! There was nothing, NOTHING even remotely redeeming about her, and it numbs the story somewhat and hardens the readers to her plight, which is central to the story. And the rest of the characters aren't much better...they all seem to want to use the old tragedy and the new case solely to their advantage. All in all, Every Secret Thing is a unique story with plenty of suspense but regrettably awful characters. It's a flaw that can't be overlooked.
Every Secret Thing was a wonderful mystery. Lippman held a great amount of detail so that with every page, you felt like you were closer to knowing the plot. There are a lot of characters, which is a bit disorienting at first, but Lippman clearly describes each character's place in the novel, thus leading to great points of view.
I'll admit I don't read many mysteries. I think this book has changed that -- it's sparked an interest in me. This book is absolutely awesome. I felt like I really got to know all the characters, that they were all fully rounded out rather than just being vague. Lippman works up to a very intriguing and unexpected climax. It was everything I wanted but didn't get from Tartt's _The Little Friend_. Like the Advanced Reader's Copy said, 'It's time you read Laura Lippman.'
This book started out promising but about half way through came to a hault. My first and probably last read by Lippman, the story just wasn't that original or worthwhile to me. I seen all the rave reviews on the paper back sleeve and thought hey...why not? But I'm more confused by the praise then by the actual book itself. Too slow moving and nothing that surprising going on in this book. At the end, who cares?