Release Date: May 3, 2016
Source: Publisher via Edelweiss
Genre: Women's Lit | Mystery
The 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.
Secrets have a way of coming to light at the most inopportune time and the damage it does sometimes is exponentially more devastating as time passes by. This is the core of WILDE LAKE by Laura Lippman where an obscure murder case opened a big can of worms for Lu, unraveling her life and unveiling the lies she was told growing up.
Going into WILDE LAKE I was expecting some sort of a courtroom thriller a la Grisham. Not that I was disappointed because the novel is engaging, but it felt more like a memoir than a suspenseful or even dramatic case investigation and prosecution. Lu would share recollections of her youth to contrast with her current situation, drawing from two different points until she realizes that the pieces don't quite fit. And so she digs deeper and the revelation is heartbreaking, the effect even more.
Lu is a good narrator, she's introspective and objective which made WILDE LAKE feel more omniscient even if it's told in first POV. As a character, I feel neutral about Lu. I admire her honest assessment of herself, she doesn't make excuses for her ambitious drive and sometimes head-bitch behavior. She also comes across as very cold. At the end of the novel when her past is basically unraveled, Lu appears to be unshaken and unbroken.
WILDE LAKE may not be as suspenseful or thrilling, there are no morbid threats or tense confrontations that will make your heart jump on your throat. Instead, it will make you wonder, ponder, and be carried away by the story at an even pace while stirring your emotions effectively.