Saturday, October 22, 2016

Wilde Lake by Laura Lippmann

Life should be great for Luisa 'Lu' Brant.  Part of an influential Maryland family, she has just won election as the first woman state's attorney, unseating her former boss.  This suburban area of Maryland includes Columbia, a famous planned community that was supposed to be a utopia of equality and diversity when it was created.  Lu grew up in Columbia and her father was the state's attorney at that time.  Her big brother, AJ, was a big star at the high school with accomplishments in sports, clubs, drama and singing.  He has gone on to become the spokesperson for environmental rights.  Lu has two children, twins, and the only fly in the ointment was the death of her husband a few years ago.

Lu is determined to be the best states attorney ever seen.  She wants to try the highly reported cases herself rather than farming them out to her staff as her former boss did.  She sees her first big opportunity with a murder that shocked the community.  A woman who lived alone, a solitary woman who worked as a waitress and lived modestly, has been killed in her apartment.  The crime wasn't discovered for almost a week and that fact increases the shock value.  Luckily, there is enough forensic evidence to quickly settle on a suspect.  The man, in his fifties, also grew up in Columbia and attended the same schools as Lu and her brother and all their friends, although no one seems to remember him.  He never managed to make it in life, still living with his parents and working dead end jobs when he worked.  Was he trying to break in and find things to sell, the murder the work of panic when he was discovered?  Had he actually targeted the victim?  Not content to rely on the forensic evidence alone, Lu is determined to discover his motive and exactly how the crime unfolded.  What she didn't expect was that as she unpeeled the covers on the murderer's life and crime that she would also reveal long-held family secrets that are tied up in the crime's motivations.

Laura Lippmann is a prolific mystery writer and her favored locale is her beloved Baltimore and its surrounding suburbs.  In Lu she has created a woman who most women can relate to as she struggles to raise her family while also carrying the weight of a demanding job.  The mystery is unfolded slowly enough to sustain interest and the denouement is shocking.  This book is recommended for mystery readers.

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