Reviewed by Alisha Churbe
Wilde Lake is a novel that centers around two stories that both reside in the same small town of Wilde Lake, Maryland. Both are told from the point of view of Luisa (“Lu”) Brant. In 1980, Luisa is ten years old and tags along with her brother, AJ, who is eight years older, and all his friends. She is shy, awkward and doesn’t have friends of her own. Her father is the State’s Attorney of Howard County. He’s widowed; Luisa’s mother having died just days after she was born. The second story woven throughout is in modern time, where Lu has followed in her father’s footsteps and became the first female State’s Attorney of Howard County; she’s also widowed with two small children. Both time frames investigate a different murder and each timeline has familiar characters.
The novel is a quick read and quite engrossing. The story lines are easy to follow and the characters are intriguing enough to follow throughout both time periods. Some subplots get dropped throughout
the novel, while others that appeared resolved or dormant come back to bite. One of the story lines that held my interest throughout the novel was dropped near the end. It was a story that was necessary to hold the timelines together, but when it ceased being convenient, it was dropped. I’m not worried about everything wrapping up perfectly; in fact, I enjoyed Lippman’s treatment of bringing dormant story lines back into view. But when everything else is either coming together or falling apart, an author can’t just ignore a conflict that was building beautifully throughout. This may not bother you or it may be that the author’s decision to walk away from the story line all together feels right. I still feel unresolved.
The novel grabs you at the first line, “When my brother was eighteen, he broke his arm in an accident that ended in another young man’s death.” Lippman does a tremendous job with character interactions and relationships. Those that form and grow between father and daughter, as well as brother and sister, and those with friends are well-defined and thoroughly enjoyable and relatable. Lippman shows what you’re willing to hide to protect yourself and those closest to you. The story is mysterious and full of secrets that will unravel to show a very different truth.
Part-time fiction writer, Alisha Churbe lives in Portland, Oregon. In the rare instances when you can pry her away from books, Alisha can be found travelling in foreign countries, cooking, or hiking with her husband Michael and dog Euro.
Review copy was provided free of any obligation by William Morrow. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.