What the Dead Know: A Novel

What the Dead Know: A Novel

by Laura Lippman
3.6 131


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What the Dead Know: A Novel by Laura Lippman

One of the most acclaimed and honored writers in the field of crime fiction, Laura Lippman offers readers a gripping tale of deception and delusion, of family wounds and betrayals.

Thirty years ago, the Bethany girls, ages eleven and fifteen, disappeared from a Baltimore shopping mall. They never returned, their bodies were never recovered, and only painful questions remain. Now, in the aftermath of a rush-hour hit-and-run accident, a clearly disoriented woman is claiming to be Heather, the younger Bethany sister. Not a shred of evidence supports her story, and every lead she reluctantly offers takes the police to another dead end—a dying, incoherent man; a razed house; a missing grave. But she definitely knows something about that terrible day—and about the shocking fissures that the tragedy exposed in the foundation of a seemingly solid family.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780061771354
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 02/10/2009
Edition description: Reissue
Pages: 400
Sales rank: 218,219
Product dimensions: 5.30(w) x 7.90(h) x 1.20(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 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.


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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What the Dead Know 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 131 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The author skips around in this book quite a bit, and that was a little confusing to me in the beginning. However, by doing this she makes each character interesting and real to you. Of course, they all tie together in the end and you understand why all the "skipping" around in the character's lives was essential to the story. A good twist in the end that you may or may not see coming. This is the first book of Laura Lippman's I've read, but it certainly won't be my last.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A hit and run on a Maryland highway, and a very cold murder case heats up. The police pick up the woman driver, who has a minor head injury, and the story she begins to tell is stunning. She knows so much about the disappearance of a pair of sisters more than 15 years ago, so she must know what she's talking about. The trouble is, she refuses to identify herself.
Laura Lippman teases her readers with one electifying discovery after another, not releasing us from suspense until the final surprising chapter. This is a literate, thinking person's mystery, with layers of nuance, characters so genuine, you might wish you knew them, and an intricate, credible plot that never lets up for a minute. She skillfully presents the unsolved crime from the point of view of those most fully involved, from the victims to the perpetrators to the police. This is top notch crime writing, and I'll be checking out Lippman's other titles. This book is a hit with me.
MikeDeavers More than 1 year ago
I really enjoy a great mystery novel and my friend recommended this book. The main character "Heather" was sort of a ringer. Normally, if the author is skilled in their writing I will find myself rooting for this character, but that didn't happen until near the end of the story which was a little late. While I'm on the subject of the ending, well it was a bit of a let down. But I don't want to give the impression that this was a terrible novel, because it wasn't. The plot will keep you reading page after page and it's certainly an excellent, suspenseful read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Another book ruined by harriet klausner and her cliff note book report. She totally ruins every book she supposedly reviews. Bn, please ban this poster and delete all of her ruinious plot spoiling posts. She is the absolute worst of all the plot spoilers here. It is because of her that so many plot spoilers give away the entire plot line and think they can get away with it.
RobertDowns More than 1 year ago
I hated Heather Bethany. And not just a little bit either. Even though she had her reasons for her half-truths and lies, reasons that become apparent later, I still found it hard to forgive her. Since much of WHAT THE DEAD KNOW revolves around her, this proved a slightly difficult obstacle for me to overcome. Yet, Laura Lippman proved up to the challenge with an engrossing story that spanned decades and bounced back and forth in time like a shooting star set on repeat. Despite the back and forth, I found it relatively easy to follow. But I still felt like there was something missing. It was a good story with an interesting premise, yet I never became fully invested in the story itself. And for that I blame the main character. She could have used a heart transplant and a lie detector test. Nevertheless, all was not lost. Sympathetic characters existed in this tale; they just needed a backstage pass. Had Kay and Nancy stepped up to the microphone a bit more often, usurping their relatively minor positions, this novel would have been a more enjoyable read. Robert Downs Author of Falling Immortality: Casey Holden, Private Investigator
harstan More than 1 year ago
In Baltimore County, Maryland the Valiant skids on the icy oil slick nudging an SUV that flips down an embankment. The Valiant driver fails to stop until she is away from the accident scene with her car suffering front fender damage. She pulls onto the shoulder and begins walking from her automobile with her ribs hurting her. A patrolman stops her and reads her rights to her for leaving the scene of an accident. She claims to be one of the Bethany girls, but realizes he is too young to know what that revelation means. Her claim with no substantiation cannot be ignored by the police so Detective Kevin Infante, due to missing roll call, is assigned to investigate whether she is a wacko as expected. The two Bethany sisters, fifteen year old Sunny and twelve year old Heather, vanished three decades without a trace while going to a mall. Her story has some validity and a ring of plausibility to it, but also lacks key details though she swears Sunny¿s neck was broken in front of her. Kevin knows he must make further inquires because she asserts her sibling was murdered back in 1975. --- WHAT THE DEAD KNOW is a superb police procedural that effortlessly moves back and forth between the present and 1975. This enables the audience to obtain a variety of perspectives of what happened to the Bethany sisters when they vanished and compare that with the way ¿Heather¿ thinks and behaves today. The investigation is top rate, but this stand alone mystery (no Tess Monaghan) belongs to the claimant as the audience will want to know if she is the real deal, a nut case or a fake trying to avoid the car accident. The climax is superbly perceived with clues throughout leading to a reasonable conclusion to a great thriller. --- Harriet Klausner
dnatxn More than 1 year ago
An excellent read. Very well drawn characters and an emotional depth that I wasn't expecting. Thirty years have gone by since the Bethany sisters went missing. The impact of disappearance is keenly felt by all, even when it reopened with the sudden and mysterious appearance of a woman claiming to be the younger sister. This book rewards patience and close reading with its ending. I was able to piece it together the identity of the mystery woman well before the ending, but not the actual circumstances of their disappearance. A truly gripping read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This page turner follows the story of 2 sisters who mysteriously disappeared in the 1970s, and now, in present day, a woman is claiming to be one of the sisters. The book is largely about a crime but it isn't your typical "crime novel" and because of that, it will appeal to many many readers. It's more of a human drama. It's well-written and keeps you thinking. I highly recommend it.
Blakese More than 1 year ago
I could not find much likeable with ANY of the characters in this book. Therefore, though I finished it I could not have cared much less. I thought it was depressing with a bit of a snap ending. I didn't feel much flow, and as I said, it was hard to give a darn about the characters. Kind of a let down.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I think Lippman is one of the most accomplished astonishingly interesting writers of almost any kind. I don't know what happened with this one, but my basic reaction was that it's just an unpleasant book. Dark, boring, too drawn out, almost silly, and a big who cares at the end. I enjoyed the Infante character here but the rest of them were really off. I have read every one of other books before this and they are all superb. So don't start here.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I greatly enjoyed this book. It skipped around, but that added to the mystery. For once, i loved the ending. No, I didnt love the main character, but i think that was the point! Read this.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I've read mixed reviews on this book but I thoroughly enjoyed it. I was sucked in from the first paragraph. The format did trip me up a bit at first but once I got in to the book I had no problem following. It was a real page turner. I'd recommend.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I'm surprised at the other reviews that didn't like this book. I couldn't put it down. Its rare to find a mystery this compelling that is also so well written and intelligent. Don't miss this one!
nolenreads More than 1 year ago
his was an amazing read. There are two sisters who disappear from a shopping mall. Twenty years later a confused woman is discovered driving erratically. In the hospital she reveals that she is one of the sisters. She won't reveal any more than that. The story winds around the two central plots of the disappearance, and the woman's present story as she tells both. The detective is not convinced. But how does she know so many of the details?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Boring read. The story skips around over and over. I began to feel like "who cares?" and felt that way with a very uninspiring ending. It fell flat.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have decided to not finish this book. I cannot get into it. The story is fragmented, jumping from one story to another. There is no smooth transition from one point to another.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I can't say enough good things about LL's books and this one didn't disappoint.
bookworm2110 More than 1 year ago
This was an interesting story. Sometimes the story line was a little hard to follow but it may have been because I didn't have a chunk of time to sit and read. The girl that gets kidnapped is bizzare, and the ending isn't what I was expecting.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I really liked this book. Although the ending was predictable, it was a very enjoyable read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
poorly written