Every Secret Thing: A Novel

Every Secret Thing: A Novel

by Laura Lippman


$12.40 $12.99 Save 5% Current price is $12.4, Original price is $12.99. You Save 5%.
View All Available Formats & Editions
Choose Expedited Shipping at checkout for guaranteed delivery by Thursday, January 24

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780062074898
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 08/16/2011
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 448
Sales rank: 369,757
Product dimensions: 5.31(w) x 8.00(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Since LAURA LIPPMAN’s debut, she has won multiple awards and critical acclaim for provocative, timely crime novels set in her beloved hometown of Baltimore. Laura has been nominated for more than fifty awards for crime fiction and won almost twenty, including the Edgar. Her books have been translated into more than twenty languages. Now a perennial New York Times bestselling author, she lives in Baltimore and New Orleans with her family.


Baltimore, Maryland

Date of Birth:

January 31, 1959

Place of Birth:

Atlanta, Georgia


B.S., Medill School of Journalism, Northwestern University, 1981

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."


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.


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.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See All Customer Reviews

Every Secret Thing 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 24 reviews.
jezebel_nj More than 1 year ago
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 !!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
SusieQDean More than 1 year ago
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!
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
sturlington on LibraryThing 6 months ago
The plot to this suspense-thriller suffers from a ¿twist¿ ending that is neither adequately built up to or remotely surprising. The characters are one-dimensional and ultimately uninteresting as well. Snore.
miyurose on LibraryThing 6 months ago
This was Laura Lippman¿s first stand-alone mystery, and it didn¿t disappoint. It¿s a slow-building, sneaky mystery. We know from the start that something terrible happens to baby Olivia Barnes and that Alice and Ronnie were responsible, but the details leak out slowly, drip by drip. The best part of the book is that you¿re never quite sure whose side you should be on. Is Alice as innocent as she seemed? Is Ronnie the sociopath she first seemed to be? What did Alice¿s mother have to do with it? Why is the public defender so invested? Even the victim¿s mother, Cynthia Barnes, isn¿t particularly likeable. In fact, she¿s quite bitchy throughout most of the book. You want to excuse her behavior, but is there a point where enough is enough?There are some quite surprising twists in the story, and that¿s what makes it extra special for me. It¿s hard for me to find a book with a plot that surprises me. This just cements Lippman¿s place on my "Damn, She¿s Good" list.
nbmars on LibraryThing 6 months ago
Every Secret Thing is a standalone mystery that is not part of the Tess Monaghan detective series. This dark story from Lippman was inspired by a real crime in which two ten-year-old boys killed a three-year-old boy. In Every Secret Thing, the perpetrators are two eleven-year-old lower class white girls, Alice and Ronnie, and the victim is a nine-month-old baby named Olivia from an upper class black family. Thus, Lippman explores not only the crime and the nature of the juvenile justice system, but also the intersection of race and class in Baltimore County.Alice and Ronnie are each automatically released from prison at age eighteen, and simultaneously, a rash of child abductions occur. Most of the children reappear shortly after they are taken, until Maveen Little¿s three-year-old girl is taken, and she doesn¿t return.Evaluation: Nothing is as straightforward as it seems in this story. Even the twists don¿t resolve neatly; the book is in fact more like ¿real life¿ than one might want! Interestingly, almost all the characters are female. There is no romance to lighten the mood, nor actually much of anything that lightens the mood. This is a good book, but one that had me longing to go back to the brighter life of Tess Monaghan.Note: This book won both the Anthony Award (for mystery novels) and the Barry Award (for crime novels) in 2004.
chrissywest on LibraryThing 6 months ago
I can¿t say my first experience with author, Laura Lippman was a positive one. I really didn¿t enjoy Every Secret Thing. I thought the plot jumped around to much. There seemed to be far to many unnecessary story-lines. So many times well reading the book I was thinking. O.k. Where is Ms. Lippman going with this? Also I kept thinking. Can you please get to the point. Pages and pages of descriptions and pointless chatter between characters that didn¿t really have a part in the story. I won¿t give up on Ms. Lippman totally. I¿ll read a few more of her books. Hopefully she has something else worth-while reading.
ReadingWithMartinis on LibraryThing 6 months ago
Synopsis: Alice Manning and Ronnie Fuller, two 11-year-old Baltimore girls, were on their way home from a birthday party when their lives were changed forever. The girls spot a child, unattended in a baby carriage. Deciding to help, the girls take the baby and try to care for it. But the baby dies, and Alice and Ronnie are sent away for 7 years.At the age of 18, the two girls are released and instructed to have no contact with one another. Each girl is to try to build a new life for herself. But when babies start to disappear in situations startlingly similar to Alice and Ronnie's crime, people begin to wonder whether the two girls should have been released and what really happened to the baby the girls were charged with murdering.Review: The premise of this novel is very intriguing. Two 11-year-old girls kill an infant, serve time in jail, are released, and then similar crimes begin to occur. I think, especially given the unfortunate events that occur in our society, children committing murder does hold a bit of fascination for the reader.With that being said, I wasn't blown away by this novel. I enjoyed it, particularly the first half of the novel, but it ended up being one of those books that are more exciting in the dust jacket description than in execution.The characters were well written. The plot was good. The writing style was very easy to fall into. This book was also a very quick read. There was just something lacking for me, though. It was missing that extra bit of oomph that would have pushed me from lukewarm to on fire.If you are looking for a decent mystery novel with an unusual plot, definitely check this book out. I wouldn't steer anyone away from this book, but I might not guide them toward it either.
allison.sivak on LibraryThing 6 months ago
This was better-written than I expected a mass-market paperback to be. And it had a good twist at the end. However, I disliked the "born bad" explanation for the murder; that is just as "easy" and stereotypical as blaming the girl from the tough home.
Wmt477 on LibraryThing 6 months ago
I couldn't finish reading this sick sensationalist murder tale.A waste of time better spent reading almost anything else.Laura Lippman makes this stuff up, she must be a real charm to live with. She should purge her soul by researching and writing a novel about nice people doing nice things.
veronicab on LibraryThing 6 months ago
This was a wonderful book! This was my first book to read by this author. I was prompted to read this because it won the Anthony Award for 2004, and I am always interested in reading any books that have won this literary award. It was a page turner to the very end.
SandyLee on LibraryThing 6 months ago
Two eleven-year-old girls kidnap what they believe to be an abandoned baby. A few days later the baby is found dead. Fast forward seven years as the two girls are released from prison. Then other children start disappearing. Alice and Ronnie are the two girls. As the reader gets inside each of their heads, it is obvious they have some serious problems. They are not so much friends as co-dependents. Alice appears to be the one easily manipulated but the twist comes in the end as Detective Nancy Porter works these disturbing cases. The most interesting character is the mother of the baby who died seven years ago. Her vengeance makes the reader almost believe she is the one behind the kidnappings just so she can get the two girls blamed and back into prison. Seven years, in her mind, wasn¿t enough for killing her baby. She had wanted them tried as adults but the prosecutor had struck a deal. Her stalking of the two girls is pretty eerie but understandable.
Kace on LibraryThing 6 months ago
I read this book a couple years ago after seeing the excerpt in the back of the book I was reading. I anticipated the book, read it, and was thoroghly disappointed. It wasn't just that the characters were horrible people, it was the writing itself. There wasn't much to recommend it, and the story, since it wasn't well written, dragged forever for me. This is a book that lasted probably a month for me (really unheard of when it comes to me and reading), but I just couldn't get into it. When I was done I just let out a relieved sigh. Yeah, I could have set it asside, but as I've mentioned before, it was always really hard for me not to finish a book once I start it. Now I'm finding that it's ok...lifes too short to stick with the bad ones.
Bookmarque on LibraryThing 6 months ago
Sure, there aren't many characters to like in this novel, but I'm not so simple as to not be able to enjoy and appreciate what an author does because there are no sunshine and puppies. If you want a nice little novel about people doing nice little things (yawn) look elsewhere. If you aren't afraid the the dark side of human nature and can enjoy a novel about people you wouldn't necessarily want over for dinner, you could do worse than this book. I found it an interesting look into what women are capable of. So often we want to deny women the ability to be vicious or dangerous, but this novel puts them on equal footing with men in those departments. Overall I enjoyed the story about these fractured people and how their lives intersected. Helen disturbed me the most and I think the narrator did a great job with her character. Her low self-esteem manifested itself in such bizarre ways that seemed to contradict and then override any maternal instinct she might have posessed. Alice, her daughter, was drawn a bit heavy-handed to be completely believable and I wasn't surprised to see her true self emerge in the end. Ronnie, while not always a sympathetic character, earned those feelings in the end, at least from me. Cynthia was a woman driven by her dark side just as much as Helen was. Nancy wasn't so clearly drawn as the rest. She kept harping on her former need for attention, but it didn't really come through since we were beyond its time frame. While it's not her best work, I think Lippman wrote an unusual story well.
ShellyS on LibraryThing 6 months ago
This was the first book I've read by this author. She writes the Tess Monaghan mystery series, but this title is a standalone. It's well written and in some ways reminded me of Minette Walters with the way it delved into characters, offering insights from the past to explain the present. At its heart, it's the story of how the past can come back to haunt the present and the powerless of some people to change things for the better.Alice and Ronnie were eleven years old when they happened across a baby in a stroller in front of a house. Convinced the baby had been abandoned, they took her, and were blamed for Olivia Barnes' death. Now, 7 years later, they've been released from "kid prison" to start their lives over. But when another child disappears, suspicion falls on the two young women.But it's not just Alice and Ronnie's lives that have been altered. There is the detective who, as a police cadet enlisted in the search for Olivia Barnes, found the baby's body and is now one of the investigators on the current missing child case. There is also Alice's public defender lawyer who still thinks Alice got a raw deal, and Alice's mother, who seems to have perfected her own brand of denial. And finally, there is Olivia's mother. Cynthia Barnes never got over her baby's death, and her need for vengeance propels much of the action and the inevitability of the conclusion.I enjoyed the book a lot, but felt at times, a bit manipulated. Lippman is careful to not tell us any detail before she's ready for us to know it. Yet by the end of the book, I felt as if I knew each character intimately and that's due to Lippman's engrossing, engaging prose. If you like a suspenseful page turner, you'll likely find it here.
slpenney07 on LibraryThing 8 months ago
Summary: Two eleven year old girls are convicted after they kidnap the baby girl of a prominent public official. Seven years later, they are released and babies start disappearing again.The Take-Away: I really thought that this would be tough to read, but the violence stayed off the pages. It was referred to, but never in detail. In fact, the lack of detail added to the suspense of the story. Who really was the murderer? Was it the dutiful Alice Manning or the unpredictable Ronnie Fuller? Each girl blamed the other, but the true story doesn't come out until the end of the novel.Lippman is better known for her Tess Monaghan. I'm not familiar with them but would pick them up. The writing in this one was so fab that the others are probably good too.Recommendation: If the subject matter seems too tough, try a different title. This author is worth it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.'
Guest More than 1 year ago
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?