Review of “Every Secret Thing” by Laura Lippman

Hah! You thought you were done seeing reviews of Laura Lippman books on this blog! But Every Secret Thing is a standalone mystery that is not part of the Tess Monaghan detective series.

This dark story from Lippman was inspired by a real crime in which two ten-year-old boys killed a three-year-old boy. In Every Secret Thing, the perpetrators are two eleven-year-old lower class white girls, Alice and Ronnie, and the victim is a nine-month-old baby named Olivia from an upper class black family. Thus, Lippman explores not only the crime and the nature of the juvenile justice system, but also the intersection of race and class in Baltimore County.

Alice and Ronnie are each automatically released from prison at age eighteen, and simultaneously, a rash of child abductions occur. Most of the children reappear shortly after they are taken, until Maveen Little’s three-year-old girl is taken, and she doesn’t return.

Evaluation: Nothing is as straightforward as it seems in this story. Even the twists don’t resolve neatly; the book is in fact more like “real life” than one might want! Interestingly, almost all the characters are female. There is no romance to lighten the mood, nor actually much of anything that lightens the mood. This is a good book, but one that had me longing to go back to the brighter life of Tess Monaghan.

Note: This book won both the Anthony Award (for mystery novels) and the Barry Award (for crime novels) in 2004.

Rating: 3.5/5

Published by William Morrow, 2003


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18 Responses to Review of “Every Secret Thing” by Laura Lippman

  1. I’ve been meaning to read Laura Lippman, what would you recommend? 🙂

    • Personally, I’m in favor of reading series in order:

      Tess Monaghan Series in Order:

      Baltimore Blues (1997)
      Charm City (1997)
      Butchers Hill (1998)
      In Big Trouble (1999)
      The Sugar House (2000)
      In a Strange City (2001)
      The Last Place (2002)
      By A Spider’s Thread (2004)
      No Good Deeds (2006)
      Another Thing to Fall (2008)
      The Girl in the Green Raincoat (2011)

  2. Barbara says:

    I never tire of hearing about Laura Lippman books. Haven’t read this one, but it sounds a little heavy – maybe for the fall rather than summer?

  3. zibilee says:

    Heh, I did think I’d seen the end of Lippman on your blog! I have read a few of her standalones, and that is what makes me want to try the books in the Tess series. It sounds like this might be a good one as well. I sometimes like it when a book doesn’t tie up things all nicely at the end. Great review, I am checking this one out for sure.

  4. I love Lippman and this one sounds good – mystery, based off true story…. OOH!!!

  5. Kay says:

    I think Lippman’s stand alones are all fairly deep and darker than her series books. I haven’t read this one yet, but it sounds intriguing. Have to be in the right mood for them, but I love digging into a twisty book.

  6. Margot says:

    As I read your review I was debating with myself as to whether to add this one to my list. I just started leaning to the no side when you mentioned it won two awards. Now I feel I should read it for my Quirky Girls’ award-winner posts. First I’ll line up some feel-good stories to sandwich it with. I wonder how Laura Lippman managed her mental mood while writing such a dark story. Maybe this is when she created the Tess books.

  7. BermudaOnion says:

    I do like books that were inspired by true events, even when they’re dark, so this one interests me.

  8. Julie P. says:

    This sounds like a good one! Great review!

  9. Alice says:

    Ooh, that looks really good. But, erm, don’t resolve how? Like, to a frustrating level?

    • No, if it didn’t resolve to a frustrating level (and I have a very low threshhold), I’d be moaning and groaning about it! All I can say without being spoilery is that it ends like shows sometimes do on Law and Order: wrapped up, but not the wrap up you may have been wanting, more like the wrap-up that sometimes happens in the “justice” system!

  10. I’ve read most of Lippman’s standalone books, including this one, but I would really like to read the Tess Monaghan series!

  11. celawerd says:

    It sounds like a pretty good book. Thanks for sharing.

  12. stacybuckeye says:

    You are so cute to include the Tess series in order! A blogger after my book OCD heart.

  13. amymckie says:

    Hmmm this actually sounds kind of interesting! Thanks for the review.

  14. Jenners says:

    So I guess you are moving on to her standalone books. Those I’ve read two of … but not this one. Sounds very creepy … little kids doing bad things to littler kids. Ugh.

  15. Staci says:

    I am for certain reading the Tess series…will have to add this one to my TBR list!

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