Sunday, February 7, 2010

RAview: Laura Lippman's Every Secret Thing

Laura Lippman's Every Secret Thing is psychological suspense--I think it would qualify as my first thriller! I was anticipating something a bit more suspenseful, but I was intrigued by questionable characters and slowly revealed details from multiple perspectives.

I feel like I'm looking at this book as representative of all thrillers and I was looking for differences in this book and the mysteries I read. I think that's a flawed approach, though, so I'll try here to consider strictly the appeal of this book alone, not as a genre.

The pacing feels moderately fast, especially as vignettes of crimes (kidnappings) are occasionally rattled off. The characters were either not too complex or very mysterious--those working the case and the victims were fairly straightforward, and the suspects were obviously very confusing. I think I would call this a character-centered novel, though I did find myself eager to find out what would happen next.

Story line themes include child criminals, kidnapping, parental guilt, paranoia, one's story and perspective versus another's, preteen girl friendship, race. The narrative is told chronologically but from various characters' perspectives. However, we don't get everything from everyone--and the suspects' sections are short and their perspectives seemingly unremarkable.

Details help characterize the mother of one of the suspects as well as the psyches of the police detective and the suspect's lawyer. There are also details of working as a journalist and police as well as of what it's like to be poor or black in Baltimore and a young girl with a past that won't go away. The tone is eery, sad, absorbing, fearful, speculative.

At the end of the Thriller & Suspense Reading Challenge, I hope to have a better understanding of characteristics of the genre as well as an ability to do readalikes. For now, I'm glad I'm not too scared of thrillers so far, and what interests me about Law & Order was definitely satisfied with this book.

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