Title: Every Secret Thing
Author: Laura Lippman
This was the first book I've read by this author. She writes the Tess Monaghan mystery series, but this title is a standalone. It's well written and in some ways reminded me of Minette Walters with the way it delved into characters, offering insights from the past to explain the present. At its heart, it's the story of how the past can come back to haunt the present and the powerless of some people to change things for the better.
Alice and Ronnie were eleven years old when they happened across a baby in a stroller in front of a house. Convinced the baby had been abandoned, they took her, and were blamed for Olivia Barnes' death. Now, 7 years later, they've been released from "kid prison" to start their lives over. But when another child disappears, suspicion falls on the two young women.
But it's not just Alice and Ronnie's lives that have been altered. There is the detective who, as a police cadet enlisted in the search for Olivia Barnes, found the baby's body and is now one of the investigators on the current missing child case. There is also Alice's public defender lawyer who still thinks Alice got a raw deal, and Alice's mother, who seems to have perfected her own brand of denial. And finally, there is Olivia's mother. Cynthia Barnes never got over her baby's death, and her need for vengeance propels much of the action and the inevitability of the conclusion.
I enjoyed the book a lot, but felt at times, a bit manipulated. Lippman is careful to not tell us any detail before she's ready for us to know it. Yet by the end of the book, I felt as if I knew each character intimately and that's due to Lippman's engrossing, engaging prose. If you like a suspenseful page turner, you'll likely find it here.