Monday, October 19, 2015

"What The Dead Know" by Laura Lippman

A woman leaves the scene of a car accident. When police catch up with her, she claims she is one of the "Bethany girls". It's suspected she's suffering minor head injuries, so her claims need to be investigated further.

The Bethany girls were Heather (11) and Sunny (15), who disappeared without a trace thirty years earlier after going to the mall on their own. The complete absence of any clues had an obviously devastating effect on their parents, Dave and Miriam.

Det. Kevin Infante pulls out the cold case so that he can find out for sure if this woman is telling the truth. However, the woman has now clammed up and won't reveal a thing, making all the medical staff, lawyers and law enforcement run around to dig up the facts themselves.

Hmmm, so what do the dead know? I'd say they know they're bored. This was a pile of shit.

It's biggest problem is its complete narcissistic bitch of a main character. Is-she-or-isn't-she-Heather Bethany has absolutely no discernible reason to stay silent. Instead of putting the insolent c*** in the slammer and making her talk, they indulge her snotty behaviour to a ridiculous degree, laboriously hunting down clues that she could actually tell them outright. The book only exists because Heather insists on acting like a childish bitch at every opportunity. I absolutely detested her, and it made it difficult to keep going.

Kevin Infante isn't much better. He thinks with his dick, has an equally snotty attitude, and after about the fifth time he fat-shamed his former police partner Nancy Porter, I wanted to reach into the book and punch him in the mouth.

To cover up the lack of plot, Lippman likes to pretend she is exploring the slow disintegration of a family after a tragedy. We go back in time at various stages to see how Miriam and Dave are faring. But it adds nothing to nothing. Why do I care about Dave finally finding success with his store? Why do I care that Miriam has decided to learn Spanish. What the fuck does that have to do with anything?

If the only way you can create a mystery is to have your characters act in ways that are completely different to our Earth-bound logic, then you're not doing your job. I hated the characters, the is-she-or-isn't-she mystery is painfully thin, the excessive head-jumping only pads out a story that is already over-padded, and the narrative is just loaded with casual homophobia and nasty fat-shaming.

After this and "Life Sentences", Lippman has just limped off my reading list. Absolute dreck from start to finish.

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