By Laura Lippman
Faber and Faber
There are two strings to Laura Lippman’s literary bow: a series of clever, well-crafted crime novels starring journalist-turned-detective Tess Monaghan; and a proliferation of standalone thrillers, often more psychological and personal in nature, such as Every Secret Thing and What the Dead Know. Her excellent new book, Wilde Lake, is set in the planned community of Columbia, a real-life attempt to create utopia in Maryland, which Lippman once called home. Given this optimism, one almost expects tragedy and the story does not disappoint. A night of teenage revelry that ends in death. A crusading liberal lawyer who wins a nearly impossible murder case. And in the present, Lu Brant, an ambitious district attorney and the first woman to hold the post, prosecutes an unstable drifter for killing a lonely woman in her apartment. The echoes of To Kill a Mockingbird are deliberate: the suspect in Lu’s murder case, Rudy Drysdale, incorporates an anagram of (Boo) Radley. Race is one of several grand narratives, but Lippman’s furious intelligence is more concerned with unpacking changing attitudes to rape.