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What the Dead Know: A Novel Paperback – Deckle Edge, 10 Feb 2009
|Paperback, Deckle Edge, 10 Feb 2009||
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About the Author
Since LAURA LIPPMAN’s debut, she has won multiple awards and critical acclaim for provocative, timely crime novels set in her beloved hometown of Baltimore. Laura has been nominated for more than fifty awards for crime fiction and won almost twenty, including the Edgar. Her books have been translated into more than twenty languages. Now a perennial New York Times bestselling author, she lives in Baltimore and New Orleans with her family.
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After a car accident on an icy road a young woman is taken to a local hospital. With no identification she is pressed by the authorities to reveal who she is. The vehicle she is driving is registered to Penelope Jackson. But is that her identity? She confesses to the young police officer she is “one of the Bethany girls”, sisters who went missing before the officer was even born. She then reveals her knowledge of a murder that occurred years earlier. Police and hospital workers suspect she is a “faker”, lying to cover up something. Refusing to give any information she is logged as “Jane Doe”. This sets the tone for a story that sends investigators following leads that often end in dead ends because witnesses have died.
Meanwhile with the assistance of a hospital social worker, Kay Sullivan, she acquires a lawyer, Gloria Bustamante. When questioned again about her identity she invokes the name of the Bethany sisters refusing any more details until she meets with her lawyer. Joined by Baltimore County Homicide detective Kevin Infante the investigation begins, questions fly, and the search for answers is on.
This is a gripping tale that pulled me in and dragged me along trying to solve the mystery. When the truth is finally revealed I almost leaped out of my chair. I never saw it coming!
The characters are richly described and the transitions between them are well handled. Descriptions of different locations and time periods are spot on and carried me along comfortably.
This is easily my favorite book by Lippman. In fact this may top my list of mystery thrillers; it is so effective in building suspense and resolving the story neatly.
Now, thirty years later, a young woman with no identification, dubbed Jane Doe, has an auto accident that leads to a series of statements on her part, and a joint effort by police, a social worker, and an attorney to discern the truth in what she has to say.
Could she, as she claims, be Heather Bethany? If not, why does she know so many details of the events, as well as private information that only an "insider" could have?
What the Dead Know was narrated by various players in the story, from Miriam and Dave Bethany, the parents, to the present day investigators. We also read the narrative of the Jane Doe character, and try to ascertain her credibility.
Flashbacks convey much of the story through these narrators, and as the story unfolds, we are soon trying to decide if we believe Jane Doe's statements, or if she has conned us.
I found the details about how the character achieved her numerous identities to be fascinating, and much in line with what we know about how such new identities are obtained. I liked this quote: "Like a bird who moved into abandoned nests, she had inhabited the lives of long-dead girls..."
In the final twist, which I did not see coming, the facts and details came together to give us a most satisfying conclusion. While not my favorite book by this author, I still will not forget it, and enjoyed the numerous ins and outs and twists and turns. 4 stars.