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Every Secret Thing [Hardcover]

Laura Lippman
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Aug. 21 2003

Since her debut in 1997, Laura Lippman has won virtually every major prize in the mystery-writing field and earned the highest critical praise for her Tess Monaghan series, which has been called "spectacular" (New York Times), "terrific fun" (Washington Post), "a delight" (Baltimore Sun), and "the best mystery writing around" (Village Voice). Now Lippman steps outside her series to deliver her darkest, most troubling tale -- and vaults into the crime-fiction elite with a haunting story of murder, fate's accidents, and the stories we tell ourselves when we try to make sense of the unthinkable.

On a July afternoon two little girls, banished from a birthday party, take a wrong turn onto an unfamiliar Baltimore street -- and encounter an abandoned stroller with a baby inside it. Dutiful Alice Manning and unpredictable Ronnie Fuller only want to be helpful, to be good. People like children who are good, Alice thinks. But whatever the girls' real intentions, things go horribly awry and three families are destroyed.

Seven years later Alice and Ronnie are heading home again -- only separately this time, their fragile bond long shattered, their secrets still closely kept. Advised to avoid each other, they enter a world where they essentially have no past. In exchange, they are promised a fresh start, the chance to mold their own future.

That promise is broken when a child disappears, under disturbingly similar circumstances. And the adults in Alice's and Ronnie's lives -- the parents, the lawyers, the police -- realize that they must now confront the shattering truths they couldn't face seven years earlier. Or another mother will lose her child.

Homicide detective Nancy Porter was a rookie cop when she solved the original case with a bit of freakish luck -- and almost derailed her own career. Adept at finding the small things that can make or break a homicide case, now she must master the larger picture in order to understand where guilt truly lies. For no one is innocent in this world. Not even the children.

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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

With this engrossing mystery/suspense stand-alone novel, Lippman, winner of the Edgar, Shamus and Agatha awards for her series featuring likable heroine Tess Monaghan (Baltimore Blues; Charm City; The Last Place) solidifies her position in the upper tier of today's suspense novelists. Two 11-year-old children-good girl Alice Manning and bad girl Ronnie Fuller-wander homeward in Baltimore after being kicked out of a friend's pool party. They discover a baby in an unattended carriage by the front door of a house and steal it away. The reader watches in horror, knowing what will come next. The baby dies, and Alice and Ronnie are imprisoned for seven years. The mystery involves which girl did the killing, and which was the dupe. After release from prison, their blighted lives move inexorably toward further horror and tragedy. Lippman slowly relinquishes the facts of her story, building suspense as she reveals the past. Her well-honed prose is particularly suited to descriptions that impart more than just appearances: "Holly was one of those people who seemed to be put together with higher quality parts than everyone else"; "...there was something menacing in the very fineness of his bones, as if a bigger boy had been boiled down until all that remained was this concentrated bit of rage and bile." With this book, much darker than any in her past series, Lippman shows she is an author willing to take risks in both writing and storytelling. Her deft handling of this disturbing material is sure to increase the breadth of her readership.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

Lippman has won just about every mystery writing award there is--the Edgar, the Agatha, the Anthony, the Shamus, and the Nero Wolfe--for her Tess Monaghan series. This is her first stand-alone mystery, one in which the detectives are consigned to bit parts. The fact that the police here do little save go through the motions underscores the fatalistic feeling at the core of this dark domestic tragedy. Lippman writes the kind of opening that should make readers feel they're following helplessly as a nightmare slowly unfolds. Two 10-year-old girls, bounced from a birthday party for bad behavior, discover a baby in a carriage on the sidewalk and deem it necessary to "save" her. Lippman leaves the reader knowing something terrible happened but unsure what it was until the narrative progresses to seven years later, when the two girls are released from prison and return to their homes, six blocks away from the house to which they brought untold grief. The girls have to adjust to a new prison of neighborhood suspicion. Then, as the girls make somewhat of a new life, children start disappearing, and then reappearing, until one toddler is well and truly missing. Lippman doesn't write a standard whodunit here but plays with reader expectations of what should happen next. A startling page-turner. Connie Fletcher
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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5.0 out of 5 stars A mystery that transcends the genre July 18 2004
Laura Lippman is hardly a household name, even after seven well-received books featuring P.I. Tess Monaghan. Her latest book is likely to change that. Every Secret Thing is one of those books that publishers like to say "transcends the genre," but in this case it's true.
It has been seven years since Olivia Barnes, a baby from a prominent Baltimore African-American family, disappeared. Her killers, two 11-year-old white girls, have only recently been released from prison when children again start to disappear.
Cynthia Barnes, the slain child's mother, is certain that the pair is at it again, and the police aren't far behind. But which of the teens is responsible? Is it good girl Alice or bad girl Ronnie? Or is it another killer altogether?
Every Secret Thing deals with difficult subject matter, portraying children as both victims and perpetrators of the worst kind of violence. Lippman, however, writes with such a deft touch and with such keen insight that her story is never exploitative or crass.
Whether it is driven by Lippman's feminine sensitivity, her skills as a writer, or both, one thing is certain: Every Secret Thing will stay with you for a long time.
Reviewed by David Montgomery, Chicago Sun-Times
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5.0 out of 5 stars An American Ruth Rendell. May 8 2004
When I picked up "Every Secret Thing," by Laura Lippman, I expected nothing more than a formulaic novel about child abductions. Much to my surprise, this book turned out to be a deeply psychological page-turner with marvelously descriptive writing, dry humor, and intricate plotting. Now that I have finished the book, the highest compliment that I can pay to Ms. Lippman is that she reminds me of the great British novelist, Ruth Rendell. Why? Rendell has never been satisfied with the standard whodunit formula. She likes to examine the unexplored dark corners of the human psyche and the mystery is not always the centerpiece of her books. The people are.
"Every Secret Thing" begins with a tragedy. A little girl named Olivia Barnes is kidnapped and, several days later, she is murdered. Two eleven-year-old girls named Ronnie Fuller and Alice Manning are charged with the crime, and they spend seven years in juvenile detention facilities. When they are released, Ronnie and Alice are young women of eighteen. Before long, when another little girl named Brittany goes missing, Ronnie and Alice are once again under suspicion.
There are so many things to praise about this book that it is difficult to pick one, but above all else, the character development is uniformly outstanding. We get to know each major and several minor characters intimately, as if they were our own neighbors. Lippman gives us a glimpse into the minds of Ronnie and Alice, two unhappy and lonely misfits with a tenuous grip on reality.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Superb psychological thriller Feb. 24 2004
By Larry
Two ten year old girls have been convicted of the murder of a baby seven years ago. Soon after their release from the facilities that housed them, another baby has disappeared. The public is unaware of the release of the girls and it is the police that is investigating the case. To solve the crime they must delve into the seven year old murder where the secret to the current kidnapping may reside.
I have had a problem in the past with the books of Laura Lippman almost entirely having to do with the pacing of her stories. In the multiaward winning Tess Monaughan series, she delves, in my opinion, way too deeply into the psyche of the characters portrayed. Is it really necessary, in a series, to know every inner thought of just about every major or minor character. To me, this serves to slow down the plot, at times, to a lethargic pace. As Laura describes a character in this, her latest novel and a standalone, " Helen's stories were always full of details like that- what she saw, what she ate, what she wore." So are Laura's. However, I will note that I have the same problem with the novels of Sara Paretsky and Sue Grafton. So Laura is in excellent company. I might be one of the few to perceive this as a problem with the Monaghan series in that mystery fans love her work as is evidenced by her legions of fans. I have not truly enjoyed or appreciated her work- until now.
EVERY SECRET THING is a psychological suspense novel in the same vein as the works of Ruth Rendall or Minette Walters. These novels are not known for their pacing. They are novels rich in character. There is an underlying sense of the unknown which heightens the suspense. (In this case, how did the baby die in the past and do the girls have anything to do with the current disappearance.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Taut, suspenseful and surprising. Jan. 1 2004
I held my breath through much of this book. What a story. Two young girls (age 11) are imprisoned for killing a baby. The story takes place after they are recently released, although the story goes back and forth between time.
The story centers around a new crime. Another missing child. Apparently, there have been toddlers missing for short periods of time prior to the abduction. Did the girls have anything to do with it?
If you saw or read Dennis Lehane's Mystic River, you know the tragedy that results when young people are damaged by crime. In this book, the girls had problems when the first crime was committed. Now that they have been released, their lack of social skills and complete lack of self esteem lead them into the lair of the detective's noose.
The story focuses on several characters, including the mother of one of the girls and the detectives. It also focuses on the family of the first child who was abducted and killed.
I read this book in a day and a half. Ms. Lippman is a terrific writer. The book had me on the seat of my chair. I burned a meal reading this book. Highly recommend!!
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding!
Also stunning, provocative, mezmerizing and so courageous. A stand alone that will be remembered long after you read the last page.
Published on June 17 2004 by Elaine Flinn
5.0 out of 5 stars As good as it gets!!!
Laura Lippman's complex thriller, "Every Secret Thing" is a haunting story about the loss of innocence and search for justice, told with extraordinary clarity. Read more
Published on Dec 31 2003 by nobizinfla
Ace novelist Laura Lippman brings 20 years of experience as a reporter to every mystery she pens. Readers applauded "Last Place," "Baltimore Blues," and others... Read more
Published on Oct. 23 2003 by Gail Cooke
Ace novelist Laura Lippman brings 20 years of experience as a reporter to every mystery she pens. Readers applauded "Last Place," "Baltimore Blues," and others... Read more
Published on Oct. 23 2003 by Gail Cooke
5.0 out of 5 stars Lippman Stands Out!
"Every Secret Thing" is Lippman's first standalone novel, a thriller dealing with children who commit crimes, the reasoning behind their criminal behavior, and the adults they... Read more
Published on Oct. 19 2003 by Christy T. French
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Stand-Alone Mystery
I just finished Laura Lippman's latest (how's that for alliteration?) and what a stunner! _Every Secret Thing_ is a stand-alone novel, not part of the Tess Monaghan series, and... Read more
Published on Sept. 16 2003 by Craig Larson
5.0 out of 5 stars Totally blown away
The Last Place knocked my socks off as the best Lippman book yet. In comparison to Every Secret Thing, it's Lippman's second best book (and best Tess). Read more
Published on Sept. 4 2003 by Avid Mystery Reader
5.0 out of 5 stars fascinating, but as dark as a thriller gets
In Baltimore, fifth graders Alice Manning and Ronnie Fuller were sent home after the latter had misbehaved at a classmate's birthday party. Read more
Published on Sept. 2 2003 by Harriet Klausner
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