This is as dark a thriller as readers will find yet Laura Lippman keeps her audience fascinated from start to finish. When I picked up "Every Secret Thing," by Laura Lippman, it was a book that turned out to be a deeply psychological page-turner with marvelously descriptive writing, dry humor, and intricate plotting. Lippman likes to examine the unexplored dark corners of the human psyche and the mystery and plot are not always the centerpieces 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. We become well acquainted with Helen Manning, Alice's narcissistic and foolish mother, Nancy Porter, the cop who found Olivia's body and has been haunted by the case ever since, and Cynthia Barnes, Olivia's bitter and grieving mother whose life is devoted to seeing Alice and Ronnie destroyed. That the two girls responsible for killing Olivia should be set free to walk the earth is simply not an option for Cynthia, who has powerful political connections and is used to getting what she wants.
As the story unfolds, a tale of psychological horror emerges that is truly chilling. When I turned the last page, I knew that I would be thinking about this book for some time to come, marveling at how Lippman mines so many themes so effectively, and how she makes us care deeply about the outcome of her story.
Laura Lippman was a reporter for twenty years, including twelve years at The (Baltimore) Sun. She began writing novels while working fulltime and published seven books about “accidental PI” Tess Monaghan before leaving daily journalism in 2001. Her work has been awarded the Edgar ®, the Anthony, the Agatha, the Shamus, the Nero Wolfe, Gumshoe and Barry awards. She was the first-ever recipient of the Mayor's Prize for Literary Excellence and the first genre writer recognized as Author of the Year by the Maryland Library Association. Lippman returned to Baltimore in 1989 and has lived there since.