I’ve been a big fan of Laura Lippman ever since Stephen King recommended her works in his Entertainment Weekly column a few years ago. And so when I had the opportunity to grab Lippman’s latest novel early thanks to Amazon’s Vine program, I jumped at the chance and immediately re-ordered my entire to be read list.
After being disappointed by her previous novel And When She Was Good, I had high hopes that After I’m Gone would see Lippman returning to form. The good news is that not only does After I’m Gone see Lippman return to form, but the novel is one of her best.
As with many of Lippman’s standalone novels, the story is less a whodunnit and more about the impact criminal acts can have on ordinary people. In this case, the ordinary people are the wife, daughters and mistress of Felix Brewer. The novel opens with Brewer slipping out of town in the middle of the night and then fills in (some of) the details leading up to his departure and then looks at the impact it has on his family. Among the central questions concerning many of those caught up in Felix’s web of lies and betrayal is was he planning to take his mistress with him when he fled and where did the money that he supposedly through various nefarious activities go?
Lippman adds in a murder mystery as well and as with all of her best novels, there are multiple suspects each with a solid motivation for committing the crime.
Lippman delves into the lives of the women who are in Felix’s sphere of influence, crafting chapters that examine each character and her decisions after Felix leaves. Each of these characters is compelling, interesting and Lippman dolls out clues and information in a way that keeps the pages turning. There were several times I kept saying, “Just one more chapter” and ended up reading two, three or four more to discover the next detail and the next beyond that.
If you’re not a fan of Lippman yet, this novel is a great jumping in point. And if you’re a long-time Lippman fan, After I’m Gone has an interesting Easter egg tie-in to her Tess Monahan series — one which could signal an interesting new direction for the series, whenever Lippman decides to return to it.
After I’m Gone is one of the best novels I’ve read this year. Add it to your must read list for 2014.