Sunday, May 11, 2014

Life Sentences, by Laura Lippman

Laura Lippman. Life Sentences. New York: HarperCollins, 2009. 344 pages. ISBN 9780061128899.

Laura Lippman is a seasoned author with many books to her credit. I reviewed one of them, After I'm Gone, on this blog on December 26, 2013. After I'm Gone tells about an investigation into the murder of a woman long dead, and Life Sentences pursues a similar theme. The main character is an author who is searching for the subject of her next book. Cassandra hears a radio story that reminds her of a friend from her school days whose infant son went missing many years ago. The mother refused to speak to the police, and since no body was ever found, she ended up going to jail for seven years for contempt, although everyone assumes that she killed the boy. Cassandra goes back to her hometown to try to find out what happened, and in the meantime, she raises a lot of concern amongst old friends and acquaintances who would prefer to leave sleeping dogs lie.

Set in Baltimore like most of Lippman's books, Life Sentences also explores the racial tensions that exist in urban schools in which friendships across racial lines can be difficult to maintain. The writing is very good, and Lippman manages to maintain the suspense throughout the book. I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys detective and mystery fiction.

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