Laura Lippman is' another favourite author who has taken a break from their recurring character (Tess Monaghan) to pen another stand alone novel.
The Most Dangerous Thing is the story of five childhood friends - Mickey, Gwen, Sean, Tim and Gordon aka Gogo - in the Baltimore area. They spend the summer of 1977 running through the woods near their homes, until a tragic event changes everything. Fast forward - Gogo has died and the others gather for the first time in twenty years. Was Gogo's death an accident or suicide? Could the events from that long ago time still be affecting the present? For each of them? What really happened? They never spoke of it aloud after that day.
Each character (and a few more including the parents of the five) recounts their take on the event and what ripples and changes it may have caused in their lives. But the incident is not the only topic of each character - their hopes, dreams and disappointments are all fodder for each 'vignette'. Definitely a character driven novel.
I chose to listen to this book in audio format and I'm glad I did. I don't honestly think I would have enjoyed it as much in written form. (Or would it have kept my interest) Listening to reader Linda Emond made it a little more intimate, more like listening to someones thoughts and conversations with themselves. Emond's voice has rich undertones. She reads in a well modulated tone and pace, conveying the introspection of each character well.
The events of that day are central to the book and I wanted to find out what really happened. I don't think you could slot this book into any one category.Read more ›
Was this review helpful to you?
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
68 of 74 people found the following review helpful
"We were the most dangerous things in the woods."Aug. 23 2011
- Published on Amazon.com
Lippman explores a mythologized childhood in the woods that skirts Dickeyville, a suburb just inside Baltimore. Five children, Gwen, tomboy Mickey and the wild Halloran brothers, Sean, Tim and Gordon (Go-Go), spend their summers exploring, far exceeding the boundaries of their parents' permission to remain on the outskirts of the wilderness. The unity of five, Go-Go the youngest, following the older kids like a happy puppy, gradually evolves with the onset of adolescence, until a fateful summer where a ramshackle cottage is the scene of tragedy the night of a fearsome hurricane. Thirty-two years later, Go-Go is dead, either by accident or suicide, his descent into bad behavior long a familiar theme in the Halloran family. Go-Go's history is littered with secrets, the long habits of parents keeping silent about bad things infecting five friends who have secrets of their own. None of them have survived that final summer unscathed, brought together finally by the loss of the boy who raptly copied everything they did and hid the ugliest secret of them all.
The narrative voice dissects the lives of each, Gwen, Tim, Sean, Go-Go and Mickey (who has changed her name to McKey). But Lippman fleshes out these pivotal characters with their mothers and fathers, the family patterns, the facades of marriage and secrets passed from one generation to another. Often the pages feel weighted with regrets, of mistakes made and roads not taken: a beautiful, artistic mother who once dreamed of Paris and painting; a woman who trades on the artifice of her body even as her beauty fades to blowsy, changing men like costumes; fathers who act on behalf of their children, adding another layer of deceit to an already senseless tragedy; adolescents eager to explore the adult world and taste forbidden fruit, only later to be burdened with the consequences of their carelessness.
In a provocative and thoughtful novel, Lippman is not content to let events drive her story, delving relentlessly into personalities, motives, the collision of egos and the instinct for self-preservation. Guilt is reduced to nearly equal portions, a collective tragedy, a collective secret that begs for release. As expected, the truth provides a measure of relief, the breaking of silence the only palliative to now-adult lives filled with mistakes and opportunities. Humanity is, after all, a complicated thing. Lippman avoids the easy dismissal or the facile explanation. No, this is murkier territory, where only one body remains buried, secrets intact. Luan Gaines/2011.
38 of 43 people found the following review helpful
I was expecting much moreSept. 2 2011
- Published on Amazon.com
After I finished I WOULD KNOW YOU ANYWHERE and loved it, I was eager to purchase Laura Lippman's latest THE MOST DANGEROUS THING.
The book is very well written and explores childhood friendships and childhood secrets. The story goes back and forth from the late 70's to current time. Every chapter is narrated by a different character which is fine, but sometimes I found it hard to figure out who was talking at the time. The story flows very smoothly but I almost want to say there is "much ado about nothing". I was expecting something horrific, terrible and completely different than what actually happens.
When I finished the book I said "what"? That's it? I guess my feelings stemmed from the whole book leading up to this secret lie or cover up which I just didnt think was so horrible. (bad, mind you, but not horrible to cause the feelings and depths everyone took to hide it)
Loved her characters and their development but just felt let down after it was finished. I will say I am glad I bought it because I was entertained but just let down by the ending.
Ps. This is a very personal book for her as she is writing some of the characters and the setting from her actual childhood, maybe that had something to do with it.
19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
"It's the most wonderful time of the year." song lyricsDec 17 2011
michael a. draper
- Published on Amazon.com
In the Dickeyville area of Baltimore, five school-age children meet and bond. They form a group and compare themselves to the five arms of a starfish. The group is composed of Gwen, the Halloran brothers, Tim, Sean and Go Go and, Mickey Wyckoff, the other girl in the group.
Their neighborhood was quiet and the parents permitted the children to play without monitoring their activities.
The action in the story moves from events in the 1970s to current time.
In current time, Gwen returns to care for her elderly father who has broken his hip in a fall. While home, she meets Sean Halloran who informs her that his brother, Go Go, has died, from suicide.
We learn about the character's lives since their teenage years. Gwen is married to a surgeon named Karl who seems mainly interested in himself. She's a magazine editor and wonders if she wants to live in a home where her husband is the only thing that matters.
The friends often played in Leaken Park and in 1978, while exploring, they come upon an abandoned cabin that was now the dwelling of a homeless black man. There are numerous chickens around the property and they refer to the man as Chicken George. They become casual friends of this man who often disappears for long periods.
During the summer of 1978, Gwen and Sean were dating and in her bedroom when Mickey and Go Go travel to the cabin and become involved in something with Chicken George.
We observe various sides to this event which has a major effect on the group and ends their childhood innocence.
The story is told at a leisurely pace to match the uncomplicated life the characters had. The dialogue shows the changes from when the characters were young to their maturity. This achievement is one that not many authors are able to manage.
The novel is entertaining as we witness the development of the characters and their parents as they deal with the incident. The conclusion leaves the reader saddened that the innocence of childhood is such a fleeting thing.
3 1/2 stars moving up to 4 stars. Received free book for honest review.
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
The Most Dangerous ThingSept. 7 2011
- Published on Amazon.com
Vine Customer Review of Free Product
PLOT: Gordon Halloran has fallen off the wagon again. When he dies in a car accident, it begins to raise questions among his childhood friends about an incident that happened one long ago summer.
CONS: I selected this thinking it was a mystery. There's very little mystery here. The only questions I had while reading it were when would it end and why I was still reading it. The Most Dangerous Thing is a long winded dull version of "I Know What You Did Last Summer." Only worse. It doesn't take the reader long to figure out what the secret that the friends share is going to be, but it sure takes a long time for the novel to reveal it. By this time, it's anticlimactic.
With few exceptions, most of the characters were self absorbed and unlikeable.
There is so little action in this novel. It's like reading someone's diary. Filled with more introspective thoughts than action, the story goes almost nowhere. It's roughly half flash back. Even in the flashbacks, there's little action or conversation.
PROS: There are a few funny bits.
2 STARS: I really liked Hardly Knew Her by this author and kept expecting this story to get better. It didn't.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
"You get the world on loan, on terms you don't dictate and can't control."Aug. 23 2011
- Published on Amazon.com
"The Most Dangerous Thing" is in some ways a departure for Laura Lippman. In others, it is typical of her masterful craftsmanship. It is not, strictly speaking, a Tess Monaghan novel, although Tess makes a brief but effective appearance. Nor is it a standard whodunit. It is, as Lippman's best works are, a compelling character study of people who have been shaped by their troubled past. They survive emotionally by rationalizing their actions, even when they know that they have behaved badly.
The author veers back and forth between the late seventies and the present day. Three boys and two girls who were once close are shaken by a tragic event that is destined to scar them for life. They are: the Halloran brothers--Gordon, or Go-Go as he is known, a wild and mischievous boy and his two more conventional brothers, Sean and Tim; Gwen Robison, who lives in a nice house and has well-off parents but is still a bit insecure; and the beautiful Mickey, a tomboy who lives with her working-class mother and a series of "stepfathers." Mickey has an aggressive streak and a huge chip on her shoulder. She also uses her looks "to get what she wants or needs."
Lippman meticulously depicts the ebb and flow of the children's friendship and shows how their parents' attitudes helped shape their personalities. The story begins with a shocking death, but only gradually does Lippman fill in the the missing pieces that will help us make sense of what has happened. "The Most Dangerous Thing" has magnificent descriptive passages, scathing humor, astute social commentary, and deep insight into what makes people act the way they do. With her beloved Baltimore serving as an evocative backdrop, the author brings her original and carefully constructed story to brilliant life. She peels away the layers of falsehood behind which her characters hide and shows how Gordon, Sean, Tim, Gwen, and Mickey grow from relatively carefree and fun-loving youngsters into, in several cases, conflicted and troubled adults. This is a powerful tale that becomes steadily more compelling as it proceeds to its shattering conclusion.