Every Secret Thing is a novel of suspense by author Laura Lippman, and has just been released in paperback this month. The original hardback version was released in September of 2003. And frankly, I wish I'd heard of Laura Lippman sooner, or I wouldn't have wasted my time on two Patricia Cornwell books over the last year or so.
I began reading Cornwell's Kay Scarpetta novels years ago, and at first was truly enthralled. The early Scarpetta novels are finely crafted suspense and mystery. Then something, I'm not entirely sure what, happened. Perhaps the Anne Rice phenomenon, where an author's product becomes so wildly popular they are either no longer edited or perhaps only proofread, mildly vetted, and then it's off to the presses.
For example, this year I tried valiantly to get through Ms. Scarpetta's 'non-fiction' Jack the Ripper opus, Portrait of a Killer: Jack the Ripper-- Case Closed where she makes a rather tortured case for lesser known but brilliant English painter, Walter Sickert, being The Ripper. Her argument is essentially that he had some major wee-wee issues that did not allow him normal sexual congress and basically this twisted him up so badly he went "ripping whores." I'm a true-crime freak in addition to fiction and suspense, and I couldn't stand it after a while. Her assertions and connections became more and more tangential as the book went on and eventually I lost interest.
Then quite recently I read the paperback release of her Scarpetta novel, Blow Fly. I had great expectations for the novel. I was disappointed. The resolution was not a resolution, and even if her intention was to leave it open-ended and close the story loops with the next Scarpetta novel, I was too frustrated by the glibly written and trite ending to care.
All this digression about Ms. Cornwell, whom I'm pre-disposed to like for many reasons outside her writing, like her struggle with bipolar disorder and her publicizing of the work of Dr. William Bass, creator of the University of Tennessee's "Body Farm," which I visited while a student there - (Dr. Bass is a most avuncular and charming man, and a brilliant lecturer, once you get past the idea that he's got dead people goo on his shoes) - all this is done to underscore why I'd rather be reading Laura Lippman's work from now on. In this one novel, the story of two little girls who take a wrong turn after being thrown out of a birthday party and end up embroiled in shocking and deeply sad events, Laura Lippman shows how to do this sort of thing right. I finished reading - I read it in one sitting, a relatively rare event for me - and wondered why on earth I hadn't heard more about this writer and this novel. Either my head's been further up my rear than I thought or she needs much more vigorous publicity.