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What the Dead Know: A Novel by Laura Lippman
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What the Dead Know: A Novel (edition 2007)

by Laura Lippman

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2,0781143,190 (3.6)109
Member:pterhune
Title:What the Dead Know: A Novel
Authors:Laura Lippman
Info:William Morrow (2007), Hardcover, 376 pages
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What The Dead Know by Laura Lippman

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Showing 1-5 of 112 (next | show all)
In 1970s Baltimore, two sisters aged 12 and 15 go missing. More than 30 years later, a woman shows up who claims to be one of the missing girls, long presumed dead. But is she really who she claims to be? And if she isn't, what kind of dangerous game is she playing?

The woman who now claims to be Heather Bethany is established early on as an unreliable narrator in the segments of this book told from her point of view. Balancing that are chapters seen through the eyes of the main police detective investigating her claims, as well as other characters drawn into her orbit. Lippman also goes back to the scene of the crime, so to speak, to show us the girls' lives leading up to their disappearance, as well as how her parents cope or fail to cope in the aftermath. All of the characters through whose eyes we see the story seem legitimate and sympathetic in their own way, and I never had the experience I so often have with multiple-viewpoints narratives of becoming impatient with one or more of the POVs and rushing through those chapters to get back to the "good stuff".

Two things kept me from rating this otherwise imaginative and well-written book higher. The machination that Lippman employs to avoid having the identity secret solved too soon seems unlikely in the extreme, and the ultimate reveal that seemed fairly obvious to me as a reader (which is fine) seemed to never occur to the professional investigators (not so fine). I get that Lippman wanted to maintain the element of shocking surprise as long as possible, but it just made her otherwise savvy characters seem stupid.

This is the first book I've read by Lippman, and I found it rewarding enough to want to read more. I'm a little embarrassed to admit that for a long time I had conflated [[Laura Lippman]] and [[Elinor Lipman]] into the same person, which would confuse me whenever I saw Laura Lippman referenced as a writer of mysteries or suspense novels since the books by Elinor Lippman that I have read could not at all be described that way. I like them both, but they are quite different writers. The more you know ... ( )
1 vote rosalita | Jul 30, 2016 |
In What the Dead Know, two sisters disappear from a local mall one afternoon. Thirty years later, a woman claims to be one of the sisters. The story is told in alternating timelines of past and present and from alternating characters viewpoints. This is a sad story, but lyrical in its telling. In the end, we see how a single event spreads ripples further and further from the center, affecting a great many lives in the process. ( )
  aztwinmom | Jul 14, 2016 |
What the Dead Know is a bit of a convoluted story told in drips and drags that seems more designed to drag out the readers and create drama then being told in a realistic way of how this type of story would actually unfold. A woman in Maryland is involved in a car accident and tells the police that she is one half of a sister duo that went missing thirty years ago. This starts a police investigation into the incident, which has long since been declared a cold case.

Although the story had a fair level of entertainment value, my biggest issues with the story is how it was told—in a manner that would drag this out to novel length even though the amount of material is pretty thin and the story could have easily been told in half the length without missing a beat—and believability. Without going into spoilers, the story’s protagonist behaved in a manner that just didn’t make sense. The result is a novel that felt very convoluted and not something that resembles reality. From the woman’s claim of identity to how her life unfolded, I just wasn’t buying into any of it. The end result was an okay novel that still felt a bit dissatisfying. It could have been written and presented better.

Carl Alves - author of Conjesero ( )
  Carl_Alves | Jun 26, 2016 |
My favorite book by this author so far. To date, I've found Lipman's endings to be hurried, to tie up too neatly, to let morally ambiguous characters off the hook. But not this time. The pacing was just right; the pieces fell into place without force & without gaps; & the reasons for the lapses in judgment over 30 years made sense, & allowed for easy forgiveness of those who asked for it. Not high literature, but an enjoyable, satisfying read to be certain. ( )
  LauraCerone | May 26, 2016 |
I would probably give this a 3.75 if that were an option but since it's not, I'd rather rate it up than down. I thought the ending ran on a bit long but the rest of the book kept me guessing and interested. I'll definitely look for more Laura Lippman. ( )
  mamashepp | Mar 29, 2016 |
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Epigraph
The living know that they will die, but the dead know nothing; they have no more reward, and event the memory of them is lost. Their love and their hate and their envy have already perished; never again will they have any share in all that happens under the sun. -Ecclesiastes 9:5-6
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For Sally Fellows and Doris Ann Norris
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Her stomach clutched at the sight of the water tower hovering above the still, bare trees, a spaceship come to earth.
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Wie nog in leven zijn weten tenminste dat ze moeten sterven, maar de doden weten niets. Er is niets meer wat hun loont, want ze zijn vergeten.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0061128856, Hardcover)

Thirty years ago two sisters disappeared from a shopping mall. Their bodies were never found and those familiar with the case have always been tortured by these questions: How do you kidnap two girls? Who—or what—could have lured the two sisters away from a busy mall on a Saturday afternoon without leaving behind a single clue or witness?

Now a clearly disoriented woman involved in a rush-hour hit-and-run claims to be the younger of the long-gone Bethany sisters. But her involuntary admission and subsequent attempt to stonewall investigators only deepens the mystery. Where has she been? Why has she waited so long to come forward? Could her abductor truly be a beloved Baltimore cop? There isn't a shred of evidence to support her story, and every lead she gives the police seems to be another dead end—a dying, incoherent man, a razed house, a missing grave, and a family that disintegrated long ago, torn apart not only by the crime but by the fissures the tragedy revealed in what appeared to be the perfect household.

In a story that moves back and forth across the decades, there is only one person who dares to be skeptical of a woman who wants to claim the identity of one Bethany sister without revealing the fate of the other. Will he be able to discover the truth?

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:19:58 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

"Thirty years ago two sisters disappeared from a shopping mall. Their bodies were never found and those familiar with the case have always been tortured by these questions: How do you kidnap two girls? Who - or what - could have lured the two sisters away from a busy mall on a Saturday afternoon without leaving behind a single clue or witness?""Now a clearly disoriented woman involved in a rush-hour hit-and-run claims to be the younger of the long-gone Bethany sisters. But her involuntary admission and subsequent attempt to stonewall investigators only deepens the mystery. Where has she been? Why has she waited so long to come forward? Could her abductor truly be a beloved Baltimore cop? There isn't a shred of evidence to support her story, and every lead she gives the police seems to be another dead end - a dying, incoherent man, a razed house, a missing grave, and a family that disintegrated long ago, torn apart not only by the crime but by the fissures the tragedy revealed in what appeared to be the perfect household." "In a story that moves back and forth across the decades, there is only one person who dares to be skeptical of a woman who wants to claim the identity of one Bethany sister without revealing the fate of the other. Will he be able to discover the truth?"--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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