What the Dead Know by Laura Lippman
A Novel

83%

10 Critic Reviews

...though the mystery fits together neatly, the book's ending isn't as resonant as what comes before. Still, as a study of how people struck by tragedy change and lose connection with who they used to be, What The Dead Know is sure-footed and poignant.
-AV Club

Synopsis

Thirty years ago two sisters disappeared from a shopping mall. Their bodies were never found and those familiar with the case have always been tortured by these questions: How do you kidnap two girls? Who—or what—could have lured the two sisters away from a busy mall on a Saturday afternoon without leaving behind a single clue or witness?

Now a clearly disoriented woman involved in a rush-hour hit-and-run claims to be the younger of the long-gone Bethany sisters. But her involuntary admission and subsequent attempt to stonewall investigators only deepens the mystery. Where has she been? Why has she waited so long to come forward? Could her abductor truly be a beloved Baltimore cop? There isn't a shred of evidence to support her story, and every lead she gives the police seems to be another dead end—a dying, incoherent man, a razed house, a missing grave, and a family that disintegrated long ago, torn apart not only by the crime but by the fissures the tragedy revealed in what appeared to be the perfect household.

In a story that moves back and forth across the decades, there is only one person who dares to be skeptical of a woman who wants to claim the identity of one Bethany sister without revealing the fate of the other. Will he be able to discover the truth?

 

About Laura Lippman

See more books from this Author
Laura Lippman has lived in Baltimore most of her life and she would have spent even more time here if the editors of the Sun had agreed to hire her earlier. She attended public schools and has lived in several of the city's distinctive neighborhoods, including Dickeyville, Tuscany-Canterbury, Evergreen, and South Federal Hill.
 
Published October 13, 2009 by William Morrow. 403 pages
Genres: Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Literature & Fiction, Romance, Action & Adventure, Crime. Fiction
Bestseller Status:
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Peak Rank on Jul 24 2016
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Weeks as Bestseller
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Critic reviews for What the Dead Know
All: 10 | Positive: 10 | Negative: 0

Kirkus

Excellent
on May 20 2010

The key to the case lies in the tortured memory of the victim, if she can just be persuaded to unlock it. Lippman...crafts a tale that resonates long after the last page is turned.

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Publishers Weekly

Excellent
on Aug 06 2016

Subtle clues point to the surprising but plausible solution of the crime and the identity of the mystery woman. Lippman, who has also won Shamus, Agatha, Anthony and Nero Wolfe awards, should gain many new fans with this superb effort.

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NY Times

Good
Reviewed by Janet Maslin on Apr 05 2007

For a novel steeped in such elaborate gamesmanship, “What the Dead Know” is unusually three-dimensional. Its characters are credibly and movingly drawn — particularly Miriam...

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Book Reporter

Good
Reviewed by Simon King on Mar 01 2007

This is a well-crafted gripper that will keep readers wondering, thinking and looking back to see how the pieces might fit together.

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AV Club

Good
Reviewed by Noel Murray on Apr 26 2007

...though the mystery fits together neatly, the book's ending isn't as resonant as what comes before. Still, as a study of how people struck by tragedy change and lose connection with who they used to be, What The Dead Know is sure-footed and poignant.

Read Full Review of What the Dead Know: A Novel | See more reviews from AV Club

AV Club

Good
Reviewed by Noel Murray on Apr 26 2007

...the book's ending isn't as resonant as what comes before. Still, as a study of how people struck by tragedy change and lose connection with who they used to be, What The Dead Know is sure-footed and poignant.

Read Full Review of What the Dead Know: A Novel | See more reviews from AV Club

Entertainment Weekly

Good
on Mar 09 2007

That the startling solution to the mystery seems a bit pat is only because everything leading up to it is so deliciously complex.

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Bestsellersworld

Good
Reviewed by Nancy Eaton on Aug 14 2016

...a novel that is a thriller and one the reader will want to continue reading until they find out if this woman is telling the truth. This book is highly recommended and one you should add to your reading list.

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Spinetingler Magazine

Above average
Reviewed by Brian Lindenmuth on Dec 23 2010

With such a big reveal happening relatively early on, the book ends more with a whisper then a bang. In fact the very ending of the book and that central question of ‘Who is Heather Bethany’ is actually guessable.

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https://www.newsreview.com

Good
Reviewed by Sheryl Beauvais on Jan 17 2008

Forgoing her usual main characters and freed of the constraints of a series, she has opened up to tell a powerful, satisfying story. It’s a good read from a solid writer.

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Reader Rating for What the Dead Know
71%

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