The revered New York Times bestselling author returns with a novel set in 1960s Baltimore that combines modern psychological insights with elements of classic noir, about a middle-aged housewife turned aspiring reporter who pursues the murder of a forgotten young woman.
In 1966, Baltimore is a city of secrets that everyone seems to know—everyone, that is, except Madeline “Maddie” Schwartz. Last year, she was a happy, even pampered housewife. This year, she’s bolted from her marriage of almost twenty years, determined to make good on her youthful ambitions to live a passionate, meaningful life.
Maddie wants to matter, to leave her mark on a swiftly changing world. Drawing on her own secrets, she helps Baltimore police find a murdered girl—assistance that leads to a job at the city’s afternoon newspaper, the Star. Working at the newspaper offers Maddie the opportunity to make her name, and she has found just the story to do it: a missing woman whose body was discovered in the fountain of a city park lake.
Cleo Sherwood was a young black woman who liked to have a good time. No one seems to know or care why she was killed except Maddie—and the dead woman herself. Maddie’s going to find the truth about Cleo’s life and death. Cleo’s ghost, privy to Maddie’s poking and prying, wants to be left alone.
Maddie’s investigation brings her into contact with people that used to be on the periphery of her life—a jewelry store clerk, a waitress, a rising star on the Baltimore Orioles, a patrol cop, a hardened female reporter, a lonely man in a movie theater. But for all her ambition and drive, Maddie often fails to see the people right in front of her. Her inability to look beyond her own needs will lead to tragedy and turmoil for all sorts of people—including the man who shares her bed, a black police officer who cares for Maddie more than she knows.
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?
And then comes a shattering discovery.
During an excavation in a remote area of the county, a skeleton is found. DNA testing proves it is related to DNA already on file: that of a convicted felon named Shirley Dolan. Along with the age and approximate time of death, the DNA link leads to a chilling conclusion: These are the remains of Bell's mother, Teresa Dolan. She didn't run away. She was here all along. And further examination reveals that she was a homicide victim.
Bell automatically pins the blame on her late father, Donnie Dolan. But evidence emerges that it could not have been him. And so Bell must solve the most agonizingly personal case of her career: Who murdered her mother?
Award-winning and New York Times bestselling author Laura Lippman’s Tess Monaghan—first introduced in the classic Baltimore Blues—must track down a missing wife and unravel the secrets in her marriage that led her to flee.
“A hair raising ride.”—Boston Globe
Mark Rubin's family is missing—and the police won't get involved because all the evidence indicates that his wife left willingly. So the successful Baltimore furrier turns to Tess Monaghan, hoping she can help him find his wife and three children. Tess doesn't quite know what to make of Rubin, who doles out vitally important information in grudging dribs and drabs. According to her client, he and his beautiful wife, Natalie, had a flawless, happy marriage. Yet one day, without any warning or explanation, Natalie gathered up their children and vanished.
Tapping into a network of fellow investigators spread across the country, Tess is soon able to locate the runaway wife and the children who have been moving furtively from state to state, town to town. But the Rubins are not alone. A mysterious man is traveling with them, a stranger described by witnesses as "handsome" and "charming" but otherwise unremarkable. And the deeper Tess digs, the more she suspects that the motive behind Natalie's reckless flight lies somewhere in the gap between what Rubin will not say and what he refuses to believe.
An intricate web of betrayal and vengeance is already beginning to unfold, as memory begets rage, and rage begets desperation…and murder. Suddenly, much more than one man's future happiness and stubborn pride are in peril. For the lives of three innocent children are dangling by the slenderest of threads.