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Dead is dead. Missing is gone. When Felix Brewer meets nineteen-year-old Bernadette "Bambi" Gottschalk at a Valentine's Day dance in 1959, he charms her with wild promises, some of which he actually keeps. Thanks to his lucrative - if not all legal - businesses, she and their three little girls live in luxury. But on the Fourth of July in 1976, Bambi's comfortable world implodes when Felix, facing prison, vanishes.
Though Bambi has no idea where her husband - or his money - might be, she suspects one woman does: his devoted young mistress, Julie. When Julie disappears ten years to the day after Felix went on the lam, everyone assumes she's left to join her old lover - until her remains are discovered in a secluded park. Now, twenty-six years later, Roberto "Sandy" Sanchez, a retired Baltimore detective working cold cases for some extra cash, is investigating her murder. What he discovers is a tangled web of bitterness, jealousy, resentment, greed, and longing stretching over five decades. And at its center is the man who, though long gone, has never been forgotten by the five women who loved him: the enigmatic Felix Brewer. Felix Brewer left five women behind. Now there are four. Does at least one of them know the truth?
"[S]mart and mesmerizing.... an involving and elegant novel of the psychological ravages of crime." ( Booklist)
"She’s one of the best novelists around, period." ( Washington Post)
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Bookmarque on 03-26-14
Sisters are doing it for themselves...kinda
When I first read the synopsis for this novel, I mistakenly thought it would focus on Frank and his absence. As in where he went and what he was doing. I should have known better. For the most part, Lippman’s stories revolve around women and how their lives are affected by their pasts and some of those pasts have problems or incidents that stem from the men in their lives. But those incidents are just causes for how the women have to live their lives around them. They’re not the focus.
That’s what we have here. Bambi (oy that name drove me bananas) and her daughters are going forward through life as best they can without knowing much about Frank’s disappearance. The money Frank was to have left them never got to them and they think that his mistress took it. How else could she have afforded to become a respected business owner if not for stealing what was theirs, something she had a talent for? When she’s found dead, they still have no answers. Or money. Then Sandy Sanchez, retired police detective, decides to take on the mystery of mistresses’ death; a very cold case. He finds inconsistencies and facts that were previously overlooked. Soon the family is in uproar again.
Sandy’s narrative basically drives the novel and keeps a common thread, but the story belongs to the women. Their relationships are complex and brushed with a veneer of distrust. At least that’s what I felt from them. That they don’t quite believe any of them is telling her whole story. And that’s what helps keep us distracted until the end when the solution is revealed. Nice misdirection, Ms. Lippman.
21 of 21 people found this review helpful
By C. Vincent on 03-05-14
Cannot rate this highly enough!
It isn't often I do this, but I finished this book in 4 short days. Typically I take weeks to complete an audiobook; this is a rare exception. I have read all of Laura Lippman's previous books and enjoy her characters and stories, so didn't concern myself with reading any listener reviews for this one. While this book is a whodunit, it is more of a study of characters - their lives, relationships, motivations, machinations, etc. I found this to be a stellar story and listen. Often I find I am somewhat neutral where the narrator is concerned but not in this instance. Linda Edmond's reading enhances the book, and her Baltimore accent is spot on. The story jumps back and forth between the present and the previous 50 or so years, but is not confusing in the least. Lippman's characters (to use a cliche', but an apt one) leap off the "page" they are so fully-developed - she astonishes me in her ability to create such real people. There isn't one false note of dialogue, either. The story is engrossing, but easy to follow, and wonderful in portraying loss, betrayal and the effects of both on a variety of vibrant people. As far as the whodunit is concerned, while really secondary to the overall story, it kept me guessing. For readers who haven't discovered this wonderful author, please make sure to check out her Tess Monaghan series (she makes a very brief cameo here).
29 of 30 people found this review helpful