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Life Sentences

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Life Sentences Cover

ISBN13: 9780061128899
ISBN10: 0061128899
Condition: Standard
Dustjacket: Standard
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Review-A-Day

"From its gripping opening pages about a burned-out author's bookstore reading, Laura Lippman's Life Sentences may be the most absorbing, entertaining mystery published in the last year. Lippman does it all, from creating vivid, three-dimensional characters, to painting a beautifully detailed portrait of her hometown, Baltimore, to crafting a plot that drives readers along at a fast clip while simultaneously building suspense as one dramatic revelation leads to another." Chuck Leddy, The Boston Globe (read the entire Boston Globe review)

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

Author Cassandra Fallows has achieved remarkable success by baring her life on the page. Her two widely popular memoirs continue to sell briskly, acclaimed for their brutal, unexpurgated candor about friends, family, lovers—and herself. But now, after a singularly unsuccessful stab at fiction, Cassandra believes she may have found the story that will enable her triumphant return to nonfiction.

When Cassandra was a girl, growing up in a racially diverse middle-class neighborhood in Baltimore, her best friends were all black: elegant, privileged Donna; sharp, shrewd Tisha; wild and worldly Fatima. A fifth girl orbited their world—a shy, quiet, unobtrusive child named Calliope Jenkins—who, years later, would be accused of killing her infant son. Yet the boy's body was never found and Calliope's unrelenting silence on the subject forced a judge to jail her for contempt. For seven years, Calliope refused to speak and the court was finally forced to let her go. Cassandra believes this still unsolved real-life mystery, largely unknown outside Baltimore, could be her next bestseller.

But her homecoming and latest journey into the past will not be welcomed by everyone, especially by her former friends, who are unimpressed with Cassandra's success—and are insistent on their own version of their shared history. And by delving too deeply into Calliope's dark secrets, Cassandra may inadvertently unearth a few of her own—forcing her to reexamine the memories she holds most precious, as the stark light of truth illuminates a mother's pain, a father's betrayal . . . and what really transpired on a terrible day that changed not only a family but an entire country.

Review:

It would be difficult to discuss Laura Lippman's new novel, "Life Sentences," without reference to "What the Dead Know," the 2007 novel that was both a commercial and artistic breakthrough for the Baltimore-based writer. "What the Dead Know" started with a real-life tragedy — the disappearance of two sisters, ages 10 and 12, from the Wheaton Plaza, Maryland shopping mall in 1975 — and proceeded to... Washington Post Book Review (read the entire Washington Post review)

Synopsis:

In this blazing stand-alone novel of twisting suspense, the "New York Times"-bestselling author of "What the Dead Know" raises difficult, illuminating questions about the nature of memory and truth.

Synopsis:

“From its gripping opening pages…Life Sentences may be the most absorbing, entertaining mystery published in the last year.”

—Boston Globe

 

USA Today calls Laura Lippman, “A writing powerhouse,” and Life Sentences powerfully confirms it. Past and present, truth and memory collide in this searing novel from a New York Times bestselling author whose novels have won virtually every major prize bestowed for  crime fiction—from the Edgar® to the Anthony to the Agatha to the Nero Wolfe Award. As she did in her blockbuster What the Dead Know, Lippman takes a brief hiatus from her popular series character, Baltimore p.i. Tess Monaghan, to tell a riveting story of deceptions and dangerously fragile truths that People magazine says, “Succeeds brilliantly.”

About the Author

Laura Lippman grew up in Baltimore and returned to her hometown in 1989 to work as a journalist. After writing seven books while still a full-time reporter, she left the Baltimore Sunto focus on fiction. The author of multiple New York Timesbestsellers including What the Dead Knowand Life Sentences, she has won numerous awards for her work, including the Edgar, Quill, Anthony, Nero Wolfe, Agatha, Gumshoe, Shamus, Barry, and Macavity.

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Lynne Perednia, June 22, 2009 (view all comments by Lynne Perednia)
Cassandra Fallows has made a living -- a rather successful living -- writing two memoirs. An attempt at fiction did all right, but sales and critical response are so tepid that she is wondering how to return to the writing she has done best.

When she hears the name of a former schoolmate on the news, Cassandra thinks she has found her next subject. Calliope Jenkins came late to the circle of friends, and was a quiet child. But it was still a shock when her second baby disappeared after the first one was gone, and she would never explain what happened. Calliope spent seven years in jail and remained silent.

Cassandra knows that Calliope was part of her childhood, but can remember very little about her. So she decides to start by talking to her old friends, even though she didn't consult them when they were included in her bestsellers. The three -- two connected by marriage, one living a separate life -- aren't all that thrilled to see their now-famous former friend. As one tells her, "Maybe we're all just done being supporting players in the Cassandra Fallows show, starring Cassandra Fallows as Cassandra Fallows." (LIFE SENTENCES, p. 130)

Interspersed with Cassandra's current search for Calliope are parts of Calliope's days and excerpts from Cassandra's first book. Calliope's narrative is fascinating, but for what it shows about this character and for what it tells about Lippman's theme of honest memory. Lippman is highly skillful in using the narratives from various points of view to explore the question of how accurate anyone's memories are. Whether it's revising a lover's words or not taking into account her own infidelities -- while blaming her father's adultery for the basic sorrow underlying her life, Cassandra's stories raise multiple questions. How accurate is Cassandra in her first bestseller about her father, a WASP professor, leaving her and her mother for Annie, a down-to-earth African American? Does she know what's really going on in events from her childhood? Does she have the details wrong but get the emotions, the overarching narrative emphasis, right? Did she write things that were true even if not exactly, precisely, real? And why did she write about her own infidelities and alleged happy ending in a second memoir?

Some readers have been highly critical of this novel, as it is not a traditional mystery. But LIFE SENTENCES proves Lippman doesn't have to limit herself. Although Lippman's crime novels are wonderfully written, LIFE SENTENCES is a natural progression in considering not only how a crime, but any event, is viewed and remembered. Lippman is audacious in creating a main character who can be rather irritating, but whose search remains compelling. The overt mystery of Calliope is dealt with in an unusual manner, but one that fits the overall scope of the novel.

If Lippman is so inclined in her further chronicles of Baltimore, whether stand-alones or the Tess Monaghan series, there are plenty of supporting characters who should be seen more. Topmost is Gloria Bustamante, one of Calliope's former lawyers and one tough character with layers only hinted at. Others may not be seen again but will be remembered by discerning readers, such as former cop Teenie, who was forced to retire after a grevious hand injury, and a compromised lawyer who seemed to promising on the surface.

LIFE SENTENCES is a worthy addition to Lippman's growing ouevre of hard-hitting fiction that searches into the dark places of human wants and needs.

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Product Details

ISBN:
9780061128899
Author:
Lippman, Laura
Publisher:
William Morrow & Company
Author:
by Laura Lippman
Author:
Delinsky, Barbara
Subject:
Romance - Suspense
Subject:
Mystery & Detective - General
Subject:
Mystery & Detective - Women Sleuths
Subject:
Women Authors
Subject:
Baltimore (Md.)
Subject:
Mystery fiction
Subject:
General Fiction
Subject:
Mystery-A to Z
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Hardcover
Publication Date:
20090331
Binding:
HARDCOVER
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Pages:
352
Dimensions:
9 x 6 x 1.13 in 17.68 oz

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Related Subjects

Fiction and Poetry » Mystery » A to Z

Life Sentences Used Hardcover
0 stars - 0 reviews
$4.50 In Stock
Product details 352 pages William Morrow & Company - English 9780061128899 Reviews:
"Review A Day" by , "From its gripping opening pages about a burned-out author's bookstore reading, Laura Lippman's Life Sentences may be the most absorbing, entertaining mystery published in the last year. Lippman does it all, from creating vivid, three-dimensional characters, to painting a beautifully detailed portrait of her hometown, Baltimore, to crafting a plot that drives readers along at a fast clip while simultaneously building suspense as one dramatic revelation leads to another." (read the entire Boston Globe review)
"Synopsis" by , In this blazing stand-alone novel of twisting suspense, the "New York Times"-bestselling author of "What the Dead Know" raises difficult, illuminating questions about the nature of memory and truth.
"Synopsis" by ,

“From its gripping opening pages…Life Sentences may be the most absorbing, entertaining mystery published in the last year.”

—Boston Globe

 

USA Today calls Laura Lippman, “A writing powerhouse,” and Life Sentences powerfully confirms it. Past and present, truth and memory collide in this searing novel from a New York Times bestselling author whose novels have won virtually every major prize bestowed for  crime fiction—from the Edgar® to the Anthony to the Agatha to the Nero Wolfe Award. As she did in her blockbuster What the Dead Know, Lippman takes a brief hiatus from her popular series character, Baltimore p.i. Tess Monaghan, to tell a riveting story of deceptions and dangerously fragile truths that People magazine says, “Succeeds brilliantly.”

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