Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Wilde Lake

Wilde Lake by Laura Lippman
HarperCollins: 5/3/16
eBook review copy; 368 pages
ISBN-13: 9780062083456

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 purposes.


Elizabeth said...

Nice review - nice blog.

I enjoyed this book too, but felt it was more of a family saga than a mystery. :)

Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

Silver's Reviews
My Blog

Heather J @ TLC Book Tours said...

Wow, Lu's life really seems to get turned upside down through this story. I'm very interested in seeing how things turn out for her.

Thanks for being a part of the tour!