Wilde Lake by Laura Lippman
eBook review copy; 368 pages
Wilde Lake by Laura Lippman is a very highly recommended,
complex family saga that alternates between current events and those
from over 30 years ago.
Luisa "Lu" Brant has just been elected the state's attorney of Howard
County, Maryland, a position her father previously held many years
before. After her husband suddenly dies, Lu and her two children move in with her father in Columbia, Maryland.
Even though she is now independently wealthy and doesn't need to work,
she feels like she must work. Her ambition, competitive streak and work
ethic have always been personality traits.
When Rudy Drysdale, a homeless man, is accused of murdering a woman
in her apartment, Lu takes the case on. She ends up being pitted against
her old boss, Fred, the man she defeated for the position of state's
attorney, Frederick C. Hollister III.
While preparing for trial, living in her childhood home raises all
sorts of memories, especially about an incident which involved her
idolized older brother, AJ, and his group of friends. Lu wasn't an
especially well-liked child, so she managed to follow the activities of
her brother's group of friends. With her small family circle just
consisting of her father, AJ, and herself, it seems natural that she
would know many of the details of a case her brother was in when he was
18 and she was 10. He was acquitted, but now Lu is questioning some
other incidents that happened back then, and wondering if her memories
are reflecting what really happened.
Chapters alternate between the events of Lu's childhood years before
and the present day case. There are plenty of unanswered questions in
both cases. Lu realizes that, as an adult, she now has the perspective
to understand more of what really happened years before and why all the
events took place. She is also discovering facts about the current case
that open up new questions.
Lippman expertly raises the questions that what we remember, and how
we perceive those memories may be influenced not only by our maturity
and understanding, but how the times in which we live can influence the
way we view certain events. The past isn't always how we remember it,
and our memories can change with new knowledge. Additionally, is justice
best served by raising questions about the past or is it better to
leave the past alone?
This is an excellent novel. It really is part crime novel, part
dysfunctional family saga. The plot is complex as the stories carefully
unfold. The story alternates seamlessly between the past and the present. As
more and more information is revealed about both times, the facts begin
to add up and more questions are raised. There are no pat answers. The emotions and secrets add up, while the tension rises.
As always, Lippman does a superb job developing her characters and
presenting the complicated moral issues they are facing. As a character,
Lu has an intelligence and psychological depth that is incisive and
keen. She is a real person, with faults and scares. She is also
struggling while dealing with moral/ethical choices that reach back to
her childhood, before she would have had any true knowledge of the
circumstances behind the events she remembers.
Disclosure: My Kindle edition was courtesy
of HarperCollins for review