Every Secret Thing

Every Secret Thing

3.5 31
by Laura Lippman
     
 

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From critically acclaimed, multiple-award winner Laura Lippman comes a riveting story of love and murder, guilt and innocence.

Two little girls banished from a neighborhood birthday party find an abandoned stroller with an infant inside on an unfamiliar Baltimore street. What happens next is shocking and terrible, causing the irreparable devastation of three

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Overview

From critically acclaimed, multiple-award winner Laura Lippman comes a riveting story of love and murder, guilt and innocence.

Two little girls banished from a neighborhood birthday party find an abandoned stroller with an infant inside on an unfamiliar Baltimore street. What happens next is shocking and terrible, causing the irreparable devastation of three separate families.

Seven years later, Alice Manning and Ronnie Fuller, now eighteen, are released from “kid prison” to begin their lives over again. But the secrets swirling around the original crime continue to haunt the parents, the lawyers, the police, and all the adults in Alice and Ronnie’s lives. And now another child has disappeared, under freakishly similar circumstances.

Editorial Reviews

Orlando Sentinel
“This is a standout. And the story of children in jeopardy and innocence lost is sadly all too timely.”
Charlotte News & Observer
“Laura Lippman can speak in any voice....This may be the best book I’ve read all year.”
The Washington Post
… unraveling the mystery isn't Lippman's main concern. Instead, she seems more interested in exploring the psychology of two very different girls, one who would do anything -- literally -- to fit in with her peers and another who seems almost perversely incapable of doing so. Neither Alice nor Ronnie is particularly likable, but Lippman renders both girls with real sensitivity and insight. The image of the pair arguing over whether there's a desert in Oz is a priceless delight, though one shot through with more than a hint of malice. — Shannon Zimmerman
The New York Times
When Lippman finally provides a full explanation for these puzzling disappearances, along with the motives for the original crime, she does so artfully, drawing from her intensive psychological scrutiny of Alice and Ronnie, their mothers and social workers, and a bereaved woman who still wants vengeance for the loss of her child. — Marilyn Stasio
Publishers Weekly
With this engrossing mystery/suspense stand-alone novel, Lippman, winner of the Edgar, Shamus and Agatha awards for her series featuring likable heroine Tess Monaghan (Baltimore Blues; Charm City; The Last Place) solidifies her position in the upper tier of today's suspense novelists. Two 11-year-old children-good girl Alice Manning and bad girl Ronnie Fuller-wander homeward in Baltimore after being kicked out of a friend's pool party. They discover a baby in an unattended carriage by the front door of a house and steal it away. The reader watches in horror, knowing what will come next. The baby dies, and Alice and Ronnie are imprisoned for seven years. The mystery involves which girl did the killing, and which was the dupe. After release from prison, their blighted lives move inexorably toward further horror and tragedy. Lippman slowly relinquishes the facts of her story, building suspense as she reveals the past. Her well-honed prose is particularly suited to descriptions that impart more than just appearances: "Holly was one of those people who seemed to be put together with higher quality parts than everyone else"; "...there was something menacing in the very fineness of his bones, as if a bigger boy had been boiled down until all that remained was this concentrated bit of rage and bile." With this book, much darker than any in her past series, Lippman shows she is an author willing to take risks in both writing and storytelling. Her deft handling of this disturbing material is sure to increase the breadth of her readership. (Sept. 2) Forecast: Look for this one to garner critical praise with a sales boost to follow. Fans will hope to see series hero Tess Monaghan-who seemed a bit tired in her last outing-back on the page soon, reinvigorated from her time off. Major ad/promo; eight-city author tour. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
With her first stand-alone novel (after seven mysteries featuring Baltimore PI Tess Monaghan, the latest being The Last Place), Lippman proves equally adept at character-based psychological suspense. Seven years after Olivia Barnes, a black baby from a prominent family, dies at the hands of two 11-year-old white girls, children start disappearing for brief periods. Then a three-year-old is presumed kidnapped, with bloody evidence left behind. Suspicion points toward the two girls convicted of the earlier crime, now newly released from juvenile detention: Alice Manning, the "good girl" who claimed she was not there when Olivia died, and Ronnie Fuller, the "bad girl" and presumed murderer. This is not easy subject matter, with children as both victims and perpetrators, but the novel is notable not only for Lippman's skill in creating complex female characters-particularly the mothers of Olivia and Alice as well as the two girls themselves-but also for her subtle way of building suspense by ever so gradually revealing the true accounts of both the earlier and the current crimes. Essential for popular fiction collections, particularly for fans of Ruth Rendell and Minette Walters.-Michele Leber, formerly with Fairfax Cty. P.L., VA Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
The creator of Tess Monaghan (The Last Place, 2002, etc.) crosses over in a chilling study of mothers, daughters, love, and murder. It sure wasn't what her wealthy parents had in mind when they sent her to study art in Baltimore, but Helen Manning thought single motherhood would be a kick. Too bad her job as an art teacher hadn't paid enough to buy a pool membership, forcing 11-year-old Alice to spend summers playing with public-school kids like Ronnie Fuller. Some days Ronnie was Good Ronnie, some days she was Bad Ronnie. One day, when they got sent home early from a pool party for misbehaving, Ronnie and Alice found Olivia Barnes, left asleep in her carriage on the porch by a careless babysitter. Now that they've been released, seven years later, by the juvenile-justice system for their unthinkable part in her murder, Olivia's mother, Cynthia Barnes, breaks her part of the plea bargain arranged by Sharon Kerpelman, Alice's public defender, stipulating that the names of the accused minors would never become public. Cynthia, daughter of one of Baltimore's most revered black judges, feels she has to protect her new baby Rosalind, conceived even as she mourned Olivia's loss. So when three-year-old Brittany Little disappears from Value City while her less-than-swift mother Maveen turns her back "for just a minute," Cynthia calls not only county detective Nancy Porter, but ambitious Beacon-Light reporter Mira Jenkins, who's dying to get back downtown after being rusticated for failing to check a story that was an obvious hoax. Hunted by press and police alike, Alice and Ronnie cross paths once more in a struggle to keep secret what just may turn deadly. Lucid, tight, and compelling. It'sLippman's gift to show the Good Ronnie and Bad Ronnie in every one of her characters, leaving no one unscathed and no one unredeemed. Author tour
Baltimore Sun
“Again, Yes! To Tess.”
Seattle Times
Lippman excels at vivid portraits of her town’s offbeat neighborhoods, hangouts and inhabitants. . . . Baltimore is never dull.”
Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel
“Superior.”

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780062074898
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
08/16/2011
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
448
Sales rank:
74,647
Product dimensions:
5.31(w) x 8.00(h) x 1.00(d)

Read an Excerpt

Every Secret Thing

A Novel
By Laura Lippman

Harper Collins Publishers

Copyright © 2003 Laura Lippman All right reserved. ISBN: 0060506679

Chapter One

"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."

"Good."

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?"

"Not yet."

"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.

(Continues...)


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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