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The Most Dangerous Thing

The Most Dangerous Thing

3.2 46
by Laura Lippman, Linda Emond

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“One of the best novelists around, period.”
Washington Post

“Lippman has enriched literature as a whole.
Chicago Sun-Times

One of the most acclaimed novelists in America today, Laura Lippman has greatly expanded the boundaries of mystery fiction and psychological suspense with her Tess Monaghan p.i. series and


“One of the best novelists around, period.”
Washington Post

“Lippman has enriched literature as a whole.
Chicago Sun-Times

One of the most acclaimed novelists in America today, Laura Lippman has greatly expanded the boundaries of mystery fiction and psychological suspense with her Tess Monaghan p.i. series and her New York Times bestselling standalone novels (What the Dead Know, Life Sentences, I’d Know You Anywhere, etc.). With The Most Dangerous Thing, the multiple award winning author—recipient of the Anthony, Edgar®, Shamus, and Agatha Awards, to name but a few—once again demonstrates how storytelling is done to perfection. Set once again in the well-wrought environs of Lippman’s beloved Baltimore, it is the shadowy tale of a group of onetime friends forced to confront a dark past they’ve each tried to bury following the death of one of their number. Rich in the compassion and insight into flawed human nature that has become a Lippman trademark while telling an absolutely gripping story, The Most Dangerous Thing will not be confined by genre restrictions, reaching out instead to captive a wide, diverse audience, from Harlan Coben and Kate Atkinson fans to readers of Jodi Picoult and Kathryn Stockett.

Editorial Reviews

Marilyn Stasio
A mysterious childhood secret is standard fare in suspense novels, but Lippman keeps this device fresh with a complex narrative structure of shifting timelines and multiple points of view. These changes in perspective allow her to circle the secret in a way that broadens the mystery and deepens the characters…
—The New York Times Book Review
Maureen Corrigan
Lippman vividly summons up the formlessness of summer days of yore, when accidental bands of kids who had nothing much in common but their neighborhood would clump together and ask, "Whaddayawannado?"…Lippman calls The Most Dangerous Thing her "most autobiographical novel…in strict geographical terms," and her precise descriptions of Dickeyville and environs, past and present, make this one of her most poignant books.
—The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly - Audio
When a fatal car accident—that may or may not have been a suicide—claims the life of Gordon Halloran, an alcoholic, it rips opens forgotten emotional wounds as the friends he left behind are forced to revisit old traumas and an awful lie they all share. Narrator Linda Emond’s understated performance is a perfect fit for Lippman’s leisurely prose in this stand-alone novel that alternates between past and present and employs crime as a means of probing beneath psychological facades. Edmond’s narration conveys a wide range of emotion, ably captures the book’s many characters, and never fails to keep listeners engaged as the author gradually reveals what “the most dangerous thing” really was. A Morrow hardcover. (Aug.)
Publishers Weekly
Childhood friends, long since splintered off, uneasily reunite after the death of one of their own in Edgar-winner Lippman's superbly unsettling tale of the consequences of long-buried secrets. Gordon "Go-Go" Halloran drives his car into a wall after a night of drinking, even though he's been on the road to sobriety. On the brink of divorce, Gwen Robison returns home to care for her aging father and learns of Go-Go's death from his older brother, Sean. With the eldest Halloran brother, Tim, and a scruffy, nature-loving neighborhood girl, Mickey Wickham, the five had come together in the spring of 1977. The group broke apart after a violent encounter in the woods, an event that was never spoken of again, but permeates each of their lives. Lippman (I'd Know You Anywhere) cleanly shifts between the past, following the band of kids through their adventures in the woods of their Baltimore suburb, and the present when Go-Go's death draws them back together. Her series lead, Tess Monaghan, makes a brief appearance, but this stand-alone belongs to the children, their memories, and everything dangerous that lives in the woods. (Sept.)
Library Journal
Gwen, Mickey, Sean, Tim, and Gordon spent their childhood summers exploring the lushly wooded forest of Leakin Park. The five of them were inseparable until they encountered a run-down cabin deep in the woods and the mysterious man who lived there. From this chance encounter comes a tragedy that impacts their lives as well as those of their parents. When Gordon dies in a suspicious car crash years later, the surviving members of the quintet—now adults—reconnect and attempt to understand the events that took place more than 30 years before. Lippman's latest shifts between past and present and among the viewpoints of the five friends and their parents as it builds toward a surprising conclusion. VERDICT Edgar Award winner Lippman (I'd Know You Anywhere) returns with another stand-alone thriller that explores truth, lies, and the nature of childhood friendships. Although the story lacks some of the suspense and urgency of her most recent works, Lippman is an expert storyteller, and fans and mystery readers alike will appreciate her nuanced portrayal of life in small-town Maryland. [See Prepub Alert, 3/14/11.]—Amy Hoseth, Colorado State Univ. Lib., Fort Collins
Library Journal - Audio
Lippman, the New York Times best-selling author and creator of the Tess Monaghan PI series, here offers a novel about five childhood buddies. As teens, they spend time together exploring the woods near their Baltimore homes until a disturbing experience during a hurricane destroys their friendship and has a long-lasting effect on their lives and those of their families. They kept their experience secret and have not had contact with one another for many years until Gordon, the youngest and wildest of the group, dies. The former friends reunite to learn what really happened that day. Televison, film, and stage actress Linda Emond provides an excellent narration, accurately capturing each character's personality. Recommended for all mystery collections.—Ilka Gordon, Siegal Coll. of Judaic Studies Lib., Cleveland
Kirkus Reviews

Childhood playmates can't quite put their past behind them in Lippman's tale of growing up too fast but not at all.

Like the five points of the star Go-Go Halloran can't get the knack of drawing, Go-Go, his brothers Tim and Sean, Gwen and Mickey seem joined even though each points in a different direction. Tomboy Mickey hates school, loves the outdoors and is neglected by her mother, a waitress with a taste for the wrong men. Pudgy Gwen worries that she'll never be attractive, and once she is, worries even more that she'll turn into her beautiful, sad mother Tally. Tim is a bit of a lout, Sean is the perfect gentleman, but neither gets much attention because their hyperkinetic younger brother Gordon, known to everyone in Dickeyville as Go-Go, snatches up every bit of the family's limited resources. Still, the five travel in unprecedented freedom throughout nearby Leakin Park, even though grown-up Gwen would never let her daughter Annabelle spend hours on end out of the sight of any adult. They hike, catch tadpoles and discover a strange man living in a ramshackle cabin in the heart of the park. But their greatest adventure is being together until disaster tears them apart. Years later, Go-Go's funeral reunites them briefly. Mickey has reinvented herself as McKey, a fearless flight attendant. Sean lives in Florida with his quietly domineering wife Vivian. Tim lives nearby with affectionate Arlene and takes care of his widowed mother Doris. But it's Gwen, the journalist, teetering on the brink of her second divorce, who forces them to reexamine their assumptions about their shared and broken bond.

No one explores the delicate interplay between children and the adults they grow into better than Lippman (I'd Know You Anywhere, 2010, etc.).

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
5.30(w) x 5.58(h) x 1.56(d)

Meet 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 50 awards for crime fiction and won almost 20, including the Edgar. Her books have been translated into over twenty languages. Now a perennial New York Times bestselling author, she lives in Baltimore and New Orleans with her family.

Linda Emond's credits include The Sopranos, all four Law & Orders, and American Experience: John & Abigail Adams. On Broadway: 1776 and Life x 3 (Tony® nomination, Outer Critics Circle Award). Off-Broadway appearances include Tony Kushner's Homebody/Kabul (Lucille Lortel Award, Obie Award).

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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Most Dangerous Thing 3.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 46 reviews.
evanescenceSE More than 1 year ago
I am a voracious reader who enjoys bestsellers, all types of literature and more. This is one of the best books I have ever read
shayrp76 More than 1 year ago
They have been keeping a secret since childhood, and like most secrets do, it's haunting them. Five friends: Gwen, Mickey, Tim, Sean, and Go-Go never talk about what happened in the woods that day, and it inevitably stretched their friendship to the limit. Putting distance between them was the best way to forget. They aren't the only ones holding that information hostage though; some of the parents have held their tongues in hopes of protecting them too, but some secrets beg to be told. When one of the five friends dies they are brought together again to realize that there is a mystery lying under the truth that they have struggled to believe all along. This story is told from many character perspectives, jumping from past and present, giving the reader an inside view of their lives and how they saw the events unfold. That's an interesting way to approach a story, especially a mystery. The characters were described well enough for me to develop some love-hate opinions of them, and the twists at the end were refreshing and surprising. It's downfall for me was that the start was slow, as was the pacing. I would have enjoyed the story more if the pacing would have picked up some speed, but overall the characters and the surprising twists made this a good read. I would recommend this to anyone who appreciates mystery and to be shocked at the outcome.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It is not a mystery, it is slow and boring, Do not waste your money,
Iamlal More than 1 year ago
Her worst book. Disjointed; with a plot that is lost among the excessive datails of the lives of secondary characters. Ms. Lippman stepped into a genre that is not her stronghold: the human nature. When I bought the book expected her great mystery work. I hope she goes back to it.
The_Reading_Reviewer More than 1 year ago
It was a different time growing up in the 70's and 80's you had the freedom to roam unsupervised and be independent in a way that will never happen again. A group of children met one summer with different backgrounds, home environments, and sexes never giving any of that a thought, only worrying about the next great adventure and challenge the parental boundaries. Tim, Sean and Gordon or "Go-Go" to everyone who knew him were the wild Halloran brothers who befriended two girls Mickey and Gwen and all of their lives took on new meaning. They were young when the escapades started and grew up together experimenting with finding out as much about each other as they did themselves. Go-Go was never as fast or quite as bright as the rest but he kept up even when they tried to lose him. They got into all manner of mischief including the discovery of an abandoned cabin with a strange man living inside. This man had no name and the mystery of who he was and where he came from was too intoxicating to this fearless five. The kids believed he was harmless, but that is the problem when you are young you trust everyone, sometimes the wrong one. Growing up was painful, when they parted it was with bitterness. After years of separation, the building of lives independent from each other they are reunited by Go-Go's sudden and horrific death. No one wants to believe it could be suicide but everyone thinks that his actions don't add up to accidental death. When the group of five now down to four start to remember the events of their time in the woods some of the secrets that should have stayed buried start to surface. Each of them knows something they don't want to share but no one can keep a secret and the four of them are determined to piece together what factor drove them apart and the one thing each of them wished had gone in a different direction. There was jealousy, manipulation, and some strange behavior but did any of that make the night of storm less real and more imagined? This book took me completely by surprise. Not that I did not think I was going to like the book as I am a Laura Lippman fan, but that she had taken her writing in a different direction. This book is gripping, suspenseful and feels too real for comfort but you can't put it down. Childhood stories are usually told as happy and wonderful times which is the white-washed version we remember, but when you peel back the layer what you find is not quite as innocent as we thought it was. My only objection was with some loose ends that did not get tied up enough for me but I am a close the book, close the story, and not have questions type of reader.
harstan More than 1 year ago
In 1977 in the Baltimore suburb Dickeyville the three Halloran brothers (Gordon aka Go-Go, Tim and Sean), and their friends Gwen and Mickey did everything together especially in playing in Leakin Park. Go-Go the youngest of the siblings dominates his older brothers. Mickey the tomboy loved being outside perhaps because her mom has a propensity for nasty men. Overweight Gwen feared she will be ugly but also is scared that if she becomes a beauty like her mom she will be depressed and melancholy also like her mom. However, a violent tragedy in the woods ends their camaraderie. Three decades later, a recovering alcoholic, Go-Go is intoxicated when he drives his car into a wall. Tim lives nearby with his with his wife Arlene and his widowed mother Doris. Sean married to Vivian arrives from Florida. Mickey the flight attendant comes home for the funeral. Finally Gwen the reporter, as she is about to be divorced, forces the survivors to look at their childhood bond and what shattered it. The Most Dangerous Thing is a super look at the child is the adult as the incident in the woods is the final shaping of the quintet. Character driven as the five and other family members have diverse personalities, Laura Lippmann writes a deep look at childhood and adulthood. Tess Monaghan makes a cameo appearance, but her fans will still appreciate this strong glimpse at adults whose memories of childhood in 1977 make for a fascinating thriller. Harriet Klausner
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed the various viewpoints of the characters, including the parents of Gwen and the boys--what SEEMS to be and what really IS are brought out quite entertainingly. I also listened to my library's audiobook because I enjoy Linda Emond's narration--she has recorded quite a number of Lippman books. A pretty good story.
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Smiley-in-the-Sunshine More than 1 year ago
While the story is interesting, there are many, many human issues contained within it which I found to be a bit distracting from the main theme - produced some anxiety, also, which may be the intention as it shows reader involvement- wanted to finish to find out 'what happened' but perhaps not the best line-of-thought for folks who have great stressors in their real lives- NOT escapist fiction and NOT relaxing
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
KrittersRamblings More than 1 year ago
What a different read - friends who were impacted by a significant occurrence in their past, they are just finding out what really happened and how it changes the past. With three boys and two girls as best friends, you know there will be plenty of drama. Two will hook up and two will find themselves mixed up in major trouble, what can you expect when a group with girls and boys tries to maintain a friendship through the high school years. I loved the switch between telling the story through the past and the present, but the chapters of the past didn't give enough away to spoil the truly juicy ending. I always love a story that spends some time in the past, so you feel as though you are getting the full story. Although I was a little confused by the whole us and them, so I am conveniently skipping it. An interesting take on the suspense novel with only one death and a lot of relationships. I kept reading wanting to know what these friends had experienced and who knew the whole truth and who knew only the partial truth.
gloriafeit More than 1 year ago
This standalone novel from Laura Lippman was, to this reader, unlike anything this wonderful author had written to this point. [Among her more recent ones, “I’d Know You Anywhere” and “What the Dead Know” still stand out in my memory and resonate with me.] The present work is not really a mystery [although there is a death early on in the book] nor procedural, but instead a series of in-depth character studies which will be difficult to match. The author takes her time recreating and juxtaposing scenes from the past with those of the present, from the time when “everything was perfect until the moment it wasn’t,” in the lives of five youngsters in their early teens, three brothers and two young girls. Ultimately each of these, along with their parents and siblings and extended families, will have their own chapters, describing events which took place in 1980, in their native Baltimore, with p.o.v. changes from one character to another and from those early years to the present time, when most of them have grown children of their own, all of it shaped by one pivotal ‘incident’ [insert your own euphemism] which changes all of their lives forever. The reality of the events of that night is different for each of them, children and parents alike. And ultimately it is about secrets kept, or not. One of the three brothers, Gordon (“Go-Go”) Halloran, nine years old in 1980 and always the most reckless of the three, although presently two years sober, leaves the bar at which he has just fallen off the wagon and does not make it home alive, crashing into a wall at about 100 mph. There is a question about whether it was a tragic accident, or something somehow worse. I found this book [in which, btw, Tess Monaghan makes a cameo appearance] a departure for this author, and very thought-provoking. I suspect it too will stay in my memory for a long while. Parenthetically, I loved Ms. Lippman’s description of one perpetually angry character who, when counting to ten, started at nine. But there are many memorable moments, and personalities, here. Recommended.
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Madriver More than 1 year ago
I am a Lippman fan, so looked forward to this book, not realizing that it wasn't a Tess Monaghan story. That was my first disappointment - I like Tess. It's also not much of a mystery - that was my second disappointment - I like mysteries much more than character-driven novels. I didn't find any of the characters especially likeable, but that was probably intended, and I got a little confused by all the changes of narrator (who narrated the last chapter, anyway?). I plodded through to the end (not because I bought the book, but because I had faith in Lippman) but finished it feeling ambivalent. I'll do more plot checking before I pick up her next book, and if it's not a Tess Monaghan story I'll probably pass on it. For those who haven't read any of Lippman's books before - give her another chance. Start with "Baltimore Blues."
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fireflymom More than 1 year ago
I have read Laura LIppman in the past, and it was a pretty good read. When I saw this reviewed in a magazine, I thought it looked interesting. Wrong. It was boring, poor storyline, many random torrents, and I had to force myself to finish it (thinking it would get better). I was wrong. It didn't get better. Don't waste your time or your money.
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