In memory of Pat Gorman,
who loved a good mystery.
Laura Lippman weaves a complicated murder mystery in her latest suspenseful crime tale Wilde Lake. Set in Columbia, Maryland, one of the first planned communities of the seventies, with communal mailboxes, open space schools, and an all-inclusive philosophy, intended to eliminate racial, religious, and class segregation, the story flips through the community’s regression, going back and forth from it inception to the present day. Not all goes as planned.
Having lived in the area for many years, the references to familiar landmarks were fun to revisit: Hausner’s restaurant, the Merriweather Post Pavilion, Columbia Mall, and the scandal-driven Governor Marvin Mandel. Wilde Lake is still there as is Lake Kittamaqundi.
Although crime is the focus of the book with two murders across thirty years intersecting across the lives of the characters, memory has a major influence on the outcome. We remember what we think happened and see what we want to see. Noone is immune, from Lu Brant, the first woman State’s Attorney to her father, the beloved retired State’s Attorney. Lipman reminds us of the stories and myths created in each family, some to cover pain, others to compensate, but most just to pass on a better life to another generation. The truth usually emerges, as it does in Lippman’s story.
Life goes on and those who die become beloved.
A Short Summary of the Plot from Harper Collins:
“Luisa “Lu” Brant, the newly elected state’s attorney, is prosecuting a controversial case involving a disturbed drifter accused of beating a woman to death. Her intensive preparation for trial unexpectedly dredges up painful recollections of another crime—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. Justice was done. Or was it? Did the events of 1980 happen as she remembers them? She was only a child then. What details didn’t she know?
As she plunges deeper into the past, Lu is forced to face a troubling reality. The legal system, the bedrock of her entire life, does not have all the answers. But what happens when she realizes that, for the first time, she doesn’t want to know the whole truth?”