Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Wilde Lake by Laura Lippman

“The truth is not a finite commodity that can be contained within identifiable borders. The truth is messy, riotous, overrunning everything. You can never know the whole truth of anything. And if you could, you would wish you wouldn’t.”

As a child, you often see the world through rose colored glasses blocking out all of the items that make life imperfect and messy.  As you grow older, you realize the truth about life and your family and realize that you’ve discovered things you wish you never knew.  This is the case for Luisa “Lu” Brant.

Lu has just been elected the first woman state’s attorney of Howard County, Maryland, a position that her father, Andrew Jackson Brant had held while she was a child.  He was a famed state’s attorney raising his two children, AJ and Lu as a single father after their mother’s death.  Their mother was a beautiful, but troubled woman.  Andrew Brant had met her in law school, married her, and lived with her parents for years before buying a historic home and moving it to the new community of Columbia, Maryland.  Situated in a great location between Washington DC and Baltimore, Maryland, Columbia was a new community being built in the latter half of the 1960’s with liberal ideals of equality for all.

Wilde Lake switches the story back and forth between a first person narrative from Lu telling the story of her idyllic childhood and hero worship of her brother AJ, who was eight years her senior, and his friends.  A friendless, motherless child, she is intrigued by the older kids and also mystified by a couple of circumstances in AJ’s senior year that will haunt them all for their entire lives.

In the current day, Lu investigates a case that seems open and shut on the surface, a middle aged waitress has been murdered by a homeless man.  As Lu delves into the case, she discovers that there is more to the story and to her family’s past than she previously realized.  What is the truth and who are the heroes?
I literally could not put this book down.  I love Lippman’s writing style, and the story swept me in.  I would get done with one chapter and need to read the next to find out what would happen next.  The story kept me guessing until the end.  I loved that it was a coming of age story more than anything.  It was relatable as the characters were fully three dimensional, warts and all.  There were times I thought Lu was condescending as a kid and as an adult, but she realized it in the end.

“’Your house was like a castle to me,’ Randy said.  ‘It was like you were living in some palace, high above everybody else.  I thought you were royalty.’

We did too, Randy.  We did, too.”

I also loved that Lu had two children and one of them was named Penelope like my own daughter.  I wish more time would have been spent on the stress of being a single parent herself, but I liked how the book had her slowly take her blinders off through the book of what her family was really like for her as a child and how she has perpetuated the myth to her own children.

Overall, Wilde Lake is a highly enjoyable mystery and coming of age story that you will not be able to put down!

Book Source:  Review Copy from William Morrow – Thanks!


  1. Excellent review, Laura! I especially enjoyed the quotations and personal touches in your review. Penelope is a pretty name. Wilde Lake is on my "to read" list now.

  2. Thank-you!! There were a lot of great quotes in the book. Penelope hasn't met anyone that shares her name yet, but she loves it:-) I like when I do see it in pop culture.