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Wilde Lake

Wilde Lake

4.7 9
by Laura Lippman

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The New York Times bestselling author of the acclaimed standalones After I’m Gone, I’d Know You Anywhere, and What the Dead Know, challenges our notions of memory, loyalty, responsibility, and justice in this evocative and psychologically complex story about a long-ago death that still haunts a family.

Luisa “Lu” Brant


The New York Times bestselling author of the acclaimed standalones After I’m Gone, I’d Know You Anywhere, and What the Dead Know, challenges our notions of memory, loyalty, responsibility, and justice in this evocative and psychologically complex story about a long-ago death that still haunts a family.

Luisa “Lu” Brant is the newly elected—and first female—state’s attorney of Howard County, Maryland, a job in which her widower father famously served. Fiercely intelligent and ambitious, she sees an opportunity to make her name by trying a mentally disturbed drifter accused of beating a woman to death in her home. It’s not the kind of case that makes headlines, but peaceful Howard county doesn’t see many homicides.

As Lu prepares for the trial, the case dredges up painful memories, reminding her small but tight-knit family of the night when her brother, AJ, saved his best friend at the cost of another man’s life. Only eighteen, AJ was cleared by a grand jury. Now, Lu wonders if the events of 1980 happened as she remembers them. What details might have been withheld from her when she was a child?

The more she learns about the case, the more questions arise. What does it mean to be a man or woman of one’s times? Why do we ask our heroes of the past to conform to the present’s standards? Is that fair? Is it right? Propelled into the past, she discovers that the legal system, the bedrock of her entire life, does not have all the answers. Lu realizes that even if she could learn the whole truth, she probably wouldn’t want to.

Editorial Reviews

The New York Times Book Review - Scott Turow
Wilde Lake is engrossing, suspenseful and substantial, its wit easing a sober, somewhat elegiac air…The primary attraction of good fiction…is the pleasure of entering a coherent imagined world, a world with enigmas much like those we know. And by that measure, Wilde Lake is a real success.
Publishers Weekly
★ 03/21/2016
Luisa “Lu” Brant, the heroine of this richly plotted and emotionally devastating standalone from Lippman (Hush, Hush), has been newly elected as state’s attorney of Maryland’s Howard County. She’s back in her hometown of Columbia, where she and her brother, AJ, eight years her senior, were raised by their widowed father, Andrew Jackson Brant, a formidable prosecutor with an Atticus Finch sense of justice and morality. Widowed herself and raising eight-year-old twins, Lu lives in the house where she grew up replete with memories of a mostly friendless childhood spent tagging after AJ or reading. Everything in the Brants’ lives is cleaved into before and after a shocking act of violence on the night of AJ’s high school graduation in 1980. When Lu takes on her first murder case as state’s attorney—a woman is found beaten and strangled in her apartment—she has no idea that the defendant, a mentally unstable drifter, could be connected to a larger pattern of darkness stretching back to her childhood. Lippman plays with the concept of truth and expertly homes in on the question of whether there are some truths we never want to know. Agent: Vicky Bijur, Vicky Bijur Literary. (May)
Washington Post
“She’s one of the best novelists around, period.”
Anna Quindlen
“I never miss Laura Lippman’s novels.”
Tess Gerritsen
“Laura Lippman’s stories aren’t just mysteries; they are deeply moving explorations of the human heart. She is quite simply one of the best crime novelists writing today.”
Mindy Kaling
“Laura Lippman is one of my favorite writers. I cannot focus on anything else when I am reading one of her books. Her writing makes me wish I lived a sexier and more violent life.”
Associated Press Staff
“Lippman is an expert at lending a clear-eyed view of the bonds that link people and the truths we tell ourselves to survive the emotional morass of life. She continues this high standard in Wilde Lake.”
Chicago Tribune
“Ultimately, Wilde Lake is not so much a crime novel that rises to the level of serious literature as serious literature that rises to the level of great crime fiction.
Booklist (starred review)
“As shocking secrets are revealed, the reader realizes that nothing and no one can be taken at face value in Lippman’s brainy, witty, socially conscious, and all-consuming inquiry into human nature and our slowly evolving sense of justice and equality...Lippman is an A-list crime writer.”
Richmond Times-Dispatch
“A heady brew of twisting tale and accelerating introspection, Wilde Lake at once disturbs and delights, as Lippman impels not only her characters but also her readers to question the depth of their understanding of the past…”
Library Journal
Following in her father's footsteps as state's attorney of Howard County, MD, Luisa "Lu" Brant has decided to make her mark by trying a mentally disturbed drifter accused of beating a woman to death. But the case brings back distant memories of her brother's having saved a friend at the expense of another man's life, and she begins to wonder whether as a child she understood the case correctly. The multi-award-winning author acknowledges parallels to the Finch family of To Kill a Mockingbird, adding, "This book was well under way when HarperCollins announced its acquisition of Go Set a Watchman—and it was completed before that novel was published." With a 150,000-copy first printing.
School Library Journal
At 17, Lu's older brother AJ was involved in the death of another teen. Though AJ walked away with a broken arm while the other boy was killed with his own knife, the event was ruled an accident. Lu idolizes her older brother almost as much as she looks up to her father, Andrew Jackson Brent Sr., a state's attorney and a pillar of society in their newly minted utopian society of the late 1960s. Now Lu, aka Luisa, a state's attorney herself, is the widowed mother of twins and lives with her aging dad. There is a new murder, and as Lu tries this case, connections to her father's biggest murder case, links to her brother's tragic events, and all of Lu's most vivid memories slowly unfold. The story is told in a series of flashbacks that are deftly handled by the author, and readers will assume that there must be a connection among all these deaths. The suspense of not knowing just what's going on, the smooth writing, and the slight cliff-hanger effect of the alternating chapters will keep readers up late. This is much more than a mystery or thriller; the crimes are almost a mere backdrop to the personal stories of Lu and her family members. The honest portrayals of teenage AJ and his much younger sister growing up will have wide YA appeal. VERDICT First purchase for all high school libraries, and a great read-alike for fans of To Kill a Mockingbird.—Jake Pettit, Enka Schools, Istanbul, Turkey
Kirkus Reviews
Lippman (Hush Hush, 2015, etc.) takes familiar themes to a new locale as she traces a family's journey from raucous Baltimore to the meticulously planned community of Columbia, Maryland. Growing up in green, slightly hippie suburbia has its pluses and minuses for Luisa Brant. She lives in an old stone tavern her father, Andrew Jackson Brant, state's attorney for Howard County, had moved onto a lush double lot for his wife. Adele Brant lived in her dream house for less than a year before she died a week after Luisa's birth. Although she's never quite accepted by her peers, motherless Lu does get to tag along with her brother, AJ, and his multicultural band of friends from Wilde Lake High. AJ leads a charmed life of academic ability, athletic triumph, and artistic talent, and some of these blessings seem to rub off on Luisa. What's hers alone is her raw ambition. Her drive powers her through life's challenges: the death of her young husband, Gabe, the difficulty of raising her twins without him, and her complicated relationship with her father, which grows even thornier after she moves back into her childhood home. It also brings her to what for many would be the pinnacle of her career when she beats her old boss Frederick C. Hollister III and takes her father's old position, becoming the first woman elected state's attorney for Howard County. Her new job pits her almost immediately against Fred in a case that looks like a sure winner. Homeless Rudy Drysdale is accused of breaking into Mary McNally's apartment and killing her. There's forensic evidence, there's an eyewitness, but for Lippman, there's no such thing as a sure thing. Before long, Lu the fierce looks like she may have caught a tiger by the tail. Although she overamps some reveals and shortchanges others, Lippman as always treads the fine line between certainty and amazement.
New York Times Book Review
Wilde Lake is engrossing, suspenseful and substantial, its wit easing a sober, somewhat elegiac air.”
O Magazine
“Lippman draws on two decades of crime reporting to produce a heart-stopping new thriller, which pivots on a state attorney’s drive and cunning as she unravels a baffling murder case with personal implications.”

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
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Product dimensions:
9.00(w) x 5.90(h) x 1.60(d)

Meet the Author

Since Laura Lippman's debut in 1997, she has been heralded for thoughtful, timely crime novels set in her beloved hometown of Baltimore. Now a perennial New York Times bestseller, she lives in Baltimore and New Orleans with her family.

Brief Biography

Baltimore, Maryland
Date of Birth:
January 31, 1959
Place of Birth:
Atlanta, Georgia
B.S., Medill School of Journalism, Northwestern University, 1981

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Wilde Lake: A Novel 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 9 reviews.
BuriedUnderBooks More than 1 year ago
If I had to name just one crime fiction writer who I think is the best out there, not only at creating stories that grip me from the beginning but who also has a sure hand with words, it would have to be Laura Lippman, hands down. I first met Ms. Lippman years ago when I had my bookstore and would run into her at book conventions but I fell in booklove with her very first novel, Baltimore Blues, a few years earlier and I admire her work today even more than I did back then. That comes as no surprise because each succeeding book has been exponentially better than those that have gone before. Wilde Lake is no exception. There are secrets in the Brant family but, since the death of Lu's mother shortly after her birth, Lu and her brother, AJ, and their dad have made a comfortable life for themselves and Lu practically worships their father, a virtual paragon. Over the years, though, these secrets have festered beneath the surface and the day finally comes when truths begin to come out, triggered by Lu's first case as state's attorney for Howard County. No one could possibly have guessed that this trial of a homeless man would become so crucial to the Brants and their past. Lu is the character who really stands out and she's a lesson in what a Type A personality is all about. Driven all her life to be perfect, to get nothing wrong, to be like her father, she's more than a bit cold and ambitious but she still wants to do what's right and she's compassionate and likeable. Her controlling nature and her focus on the present have allowed those family secrets to remain hidden for years but when some things begin to come to light, the door is wide open and Lu goes through it. Much of what she learns is devastating but getting to the truth and questioning memories is going to change lives forever. Ms. Lippman is the author of both series and standalones and Wilde Lake is one of the latter. In a way, I'm sorry about that because I'd like to see who Lu becomes now that there have been so many changes in her life but I'll just have to look forward to whatever this wonderful author will be bringing us next. In the meantime, Wilde Lake will go on my list of favorite books read in 2016.
WanderRoxyReads More than 1 year ago
Louise “Lu” Brant has been elected the first woman state’s attorney for Howard County in Maryland. Lu lands her first murder trial as state’s attorney shortly after taking office. During Lu’s preparation for the trial, she discovers a link between her current murder case to a tragic event in 1980. In the fall of 1980, her brother, AJ, and friends were at a party on Wilde Lake. Events during the party led to the unfortunate death of a man, a family friend accused of the murder, and her brother braking his arm. Wilde Lake, labeled as a crime novel, is more a story of family, secrets, friendships, and loyalty. The characters of Wilde Lake were well developed. The plot, although not well driven, has a few twists and turns. If you are looking for a quick read, a crime novel with a slight hint of mystery, pick up this read. I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Virginiaw More than 1 year ago
This is a wonderful stand alone addition to Laura Lippman's books. I did not want to put this down. There were so many twists and turns. Luisa Brant is a state attorney and is trying a murder case that leads her to remember what happened to her family and friends over 35 years earlier. I loved this book. I received this book from the author for a fair and honest opinion.
nfmgirl More than 1 year ago
Lu is the new state's attorney in Howard County, Maryland. She has a lot to prove, being the first woman to fill the position, and having had her own father hold the position previously. Lu lost her mother shortly after her birth, and she and her older brother AJ were both raised by their loving but tough widower father and their somewhat detached housekeeper/cook Teensy. Lu didn't have many friends growing up in the small town of Columbia, and was quite awkward in her childhood, but was very familiar with her big brother's group of friends when he was in high school. While in high school, something happened one night while AJ and his friends were unsupervised at one of their houses-- something that will now come full circle many years later, landing smack dab in the middle of Lu's life. I was introduced to the author through her novel And When She Was Good, which I enjoyed, but I liked this one much more. Flashing back and forth between childhood and present day, there is good character development from childhood to late adult, and the transitions were handled quite well. Often when there are these sort of flashbacks, it can be difficult for me to keep track of the timeline. To ease the leaps through time, the author uses dates to track present day, while glances at the past have chapter titles like "OH BRAVE NEW WORLD THAT HAS NO TREES IN IT" and "INTEMPERANCE". This story has dual mysteries-- one from the present involving a murdered woman and one that resurfaces from the past. The story slowly builds both mysteries incrementally, while likewise building suspense. What really happened so long ago with her brother and his friends? Is there a connection to the present day murder? My final word: I really liked this story. This is a mystery novel with some depth. While I often have difficulty with transitions between past and present, I thought the author handled those transitions well in this book. The flashbacks really helped with the character development, which resulted in more multi-dimensional characters. Author Laura Lippman reveals the dual mysteries slowly throughout the story, building tension and suspense, and leading Lu to uncover several unexpected secrets. The author masters the art of suspense, and this book will have you anxious to turn the next page. Thank you, Laura Lippman!
bookchickdi More than 1 year ago
Laura Lippman writes mystery novels that are not only page-turners, they are thought-provoking and very well written. Her latest stand-alone novel is Wilde Lake, set in Baltimore as most of her books are. Lu Brant has just been elected the first female state's attorney in Howard County. She is a single mother of eight-year-old twins, Justin and Penelope, after her wealthy husband died of heart attack. Lu moved back to her childhood home to live with her father, a former state's attorney. The story has two time settings- the present day and when Lu was an eight-year-old girl. Lu's mother died one week after Lu was born, so she never knew her mother. Her brother AJ is eight years older, and the golden boy at his high school. As AJ and his friends were celebrating their upcoming high school graduation, three brothers crashed the party and accused AJ's friend of ruining their sister. A fight broke out, one young man died and AJ's friend was seriously injured. In the present, Lu is proceeding to prosecute the murder of a woman in her apartment. A homeless man is accused of the brutal crime and as the investigation proceeds, the case looks like a slam-dunk for Lu until she digs deeper and finds a connection to an old incident. A woman has also come to Lu claiming that she has information about a famous murder conviction Lu's father had obtained thirty years ago. The woman said that she was the convicted man's alibi but Lu's father ignored her all those years ago. Lippman has said that this story was inspired by Harper Lee's To Kill A Mockingbird. It does have several of the same elements- a young girl worships her honorable lawyer father, a trial that envelops the entire town- and adds many more intriguing ones. Lippman brings her characteristic thoughtfulness to the societal change in attitudes about sex and rape over the last thirty years. She also unravels many secrets in the Brant family and among AJ and his group of high school friends. I love a book that keeps me guessing, and Wilde Lake certainly did that. I actually gasped at one sad event late in the book that I didn't see coming. One thing Lippman excels at is ending the chapter on a sentence that forces you to keep reading, like this one: "Besides, if Fred wanted to make it personal, there were better, juicer-truer-rumors to spread. He just didn't know where to look." How can you stop reading there? The characters in Wilde Lake are fascinating too. From Lu to her father to her brother to even less important ones like AJ's friends Bash and Noel and Teensy, the Brant's housekeeper, all are fully realized people. Wilde Lake is a literary mystery that will keep the reader guessing as she is compulsively turning the pages. It is a worthy homage to To Kill A Mockingbird, but one that stands on its own as a terrific story. I highly recommend it.
Twink More than 1 year ago
I've read all of Laura Lippman's books. I don't bother looking at the flyleaf at all anymore - I just know I'm going to enjoy whatever story she's crafted. Her Tess Monaghan series is a perennial favourite of mine, but the stand alones are just as good. Her latest stand alone, Wilde Lake, has just released. Lu Brant has just been elected as the first female State's Attorney of Howard County, Maryland, filling the chair that her father once held. She decides to make her presence known by taking on a recent murder case - a woman beaten to death in her home by a homeless man. Lippman employs one of my favourite story telling techniques - past and present in alternating chapters. As Lu prepares for the impending court case, names and events from her own past begin to pop up. And so we relive Lu's life from age six until it collides with the present day - with a very loud crash. Ahh, Lippman is such a storyteller. I was immediately caught up in the characters and the plot. Lu is a difficult character, bristly, stubborn and somewhat unpredictable. I felt sympathy for young Lu but funnily enough that sympathy did not extend to adult Lu, even though I knew the past shaped her present. I didn't really like adult Lu at all. There is more than one mystery in Wilde Lake. That of the accused drifter of course, but also events in the past - seemingly all stemming from one night in her brother AJ's life. " Most of what I know about that night is from reading old court documents and press accounts over the past few months." But as we learn more about the Brant family from Lu's memories, it seems that one night is just one event never fully spoken of. There are others. From the outside looking in, the Brants have an idyllic life - from the inside looking out, the view is not quite the same. The mysteries are joined by an exploration of family dynamics, tensions, deceptions, what we would do to protect our families and loved ones and the consequences of those choices. There ate many 'reveals' in the last few chapters. There was one late addition that I thought was a bit of a stretch, but on reflection, I could see the groundwork being laid in the chapters dealing with the past. I enjoyed Wilde Lake - although it's less of a true mystery than some of my favourite Lippman books, it kept me engaged from first page to last. Interesting side note - Lippman grew up in Columbia, Maryland (the setting for this book) and also attended Wilde Lake High School. (also featured)
ABookAWeekES More than 1 year ago
"We always want our heroes to be better than their times, to hold the enlightened views we have achieved one hundred, fifty, ten years later." Luisa "Lu" Brandt's childhood is one of both tragedy and triumph. Her mother died one day after giving birth to Lu, leaving Andrew Jackson Brandt to raise her and her older brother AJ. Mr. Brandt never adapted to the domesticity that being a single father demands, but he did fiercely love his children. Never having a true female role model, other than the family housekeeper Teensy, Lu struggled to find her place in the world. Even in the idealistic community of Columbia, teachers and students were hesitant to accept Lu for the individual free spirit that she was. Throughout the tribulations of adolescence, Lu learned that family was the only thing in life that would never waver. This lesson was cemented into her being on the night that AJ killed a local townsman while defending a friend. Her father used his influence as the State's Attorney to see that the incident was swiftly resolved and didn't cause any unneeded trauma to his son. Years later, Lu finds her life coming full circle. After her husband's untimely death, she relocated herself and her twin children back to her childhood home. Not long after the move, she was elected to hold the very same office her father held years ago. With the shadow of her father's highly revered career looming over her, Lu hits the ground running by taking on a murder case. The incident of a mentally unstable drifter killing a local young woman seems like the perfect way for Lu to assert the power of her new job. But new revelations force Lu to face inconsistencies in her own past and call into question the memories that she holds dear. Readers of Laura Lippman's novels have come to expect intricate mysteries that keep the pages turning and our imaginations working. While Wilde Lake certainly does its part to keep this tradition alive, it is much more a family drama than a conventional thriller. As the story unfolds, the relationship between Lu and her father and brother takes center stage. Yes, there is a mystery that will keep you guessing to the very end, but this mystery is not the central focus of the novel. Rather, the murder case is used to advance the development of the the true nature of the family's narrative. The novel alternates between past and present. The present day sections read like many of Lippman's past efforts. Lu is a flawed character who we can't help but connect with and root for. It is in the sections about Lu's childhood where Lippman offers something refreshingly different. Echoes of Harper Lee's To Kill A Mockingbird permeate the story of a young girl being raised by her lawyer father. The childlike innocence of these portions only add to the suspense of the present day mystery. As past and present collide, Lippman weaves a poignant tale that comments on family loyalty and the vulnerability of memory. Wilde Lake is a stirring work that proves that Lippman is a master of her craft.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Yay for 3hour car ride and being A.D.D + A.D.H.D!))l walk in wearing a red swim suit