Every Secret Thing


Laura Lippman


Mystery / Thriller


Date Reviewed:

July 6, 2007

ho is Laura Lippman? The inside flap of Every Secret Thing informs the reader that she has won the Edgar, Agatha, Shamus, Anthony, and Nero Wolfe Awards. Whew, that is a lot of awards! After reading Every Secret Thing, I can see why she has won all those accolades - Lippman can write a top notch mystery tale.

Every Secret Thing begins with the story of Ronnie (Veronica) and Alice. The two girls are age 11, and walking home from a birthday party. They come upon an untended baby carriage, and decide that they should take care of the infant. But things go very wrong, and the baby dies. Ronnie and Alice are sentenced to prison. Lippman doesn't tell us exactly what happened after the two girls find the baby carriage, but she keeps doling out clues about how the tragedy unfolded. Seven years later, when the girls turn 18, they are no longer juveniles. Their records are wiped clean and they are released back into society. After the girls are released, brief abductions of baby girls start to occur - none are hurt, and almost all are found quickly found again. Could it be that Alice and/or Ronnie are involved, or is that just coincidence? Or is it a setup?

Cynthia Barnes was the mother of the child that Ronnie and Alice found seven years ago. (Her baby was supposed to be watched by a babysitter, but the teenager got involved in a fateful phone call while leaving the carriage parked outside.) It galls Cynthia that Ronnie and Alice are now both free, while her baby remains dead in the grave. After seven years, Cynthia has neither forgiven nor forgotten, and she has resources and connections. Baby girls are going missing? Alice and Ronnie MUST be involved, and Cynthia is determined to make sure that the news media know about it.

Detective Nancy Porter was a rookie police officer when she made the lucky discovery of the body of the dead baby seven years earlier, she found the child that Alice and Ronnie had stolen. She received a lot of fame, which ended up derailing the start of her career - as fellow officers resented the praise that Nancy got. Now Nancy is in the homicide department, and when a baby is stolen, it is Nancy's case. We follow the investigation through her eyes, as she interviews the other characters and hunts for clues.

I think this book works so well because Lippman does such a fine job developing the characters. She manages to convey some sympathy for Ronnie and Alice, despite their past crime, and she shows that Cynthia, the grieving mother, can in fact be quite unsympathetic despite her understandable anguish and rage. All the characters seem genuine - Alice's mother, Helen, or Maddy's mother, who lies about the events of the birthday party seven years ago, and then has a well portrayed encounter with Ronnie in the bagel shop seven years later.

The character of Alice Manning reminded me a lot of The Sculptress, a book by Minette Walters. That book won an Edgar Award.

I will add some more Laura Lippman books to my list of "to-be-read-some-day". She merits the many awards she has received. Every Secret Thing is good book.