Synopses & Reviews
What if a teachers most promising pupil is also her most dangerous? A tautly plotted psychological thriller, as intelligent as it is mesmerizing
What Has Become of You follows Vera Lundy, an aspiring crime writer and master of self-deprecation who, like many adults, has survived adolescence but hasnt entirely overcome it. When she agrees to fill in for a private school English teacher on maternity leave, teaching The Catcher in the Rye to privileged girls, Vera feels in over her head. The students are on edge, too, due to the recent murder of a local girl close to their age.
Enter Jensen Willard. At fifteen shes already a gifted writer but also self-destructive and eerily reminiscent of Veras younger self. As the two outcasts forge a tentative bond, a sense of menace enfolds their small New England town. When another student, new to the country, is imperiled by her beliefs, Vera finds herself in the vortex of dangerand suspicion.
With the threat of a killer at large, the disappearance of her increasingly worri-some pupil, and her own professional reputation at stake, Vera must thread her way among what is right by the law, by her students, and by herself. In this poignant page-turner, populated with beguiling characters and sharp social insights, coming-of-age can happen no matter how old you are.
“Theirs is a strong and vivid story, one that will intrigue many readersespecially, I suspect, women who find echoes of their own lives and friendships in this drama.” Washington Post
Life Sentences is an original and intricately woven whydunnit, with characters as real as the Baltimore streets they live on.With Laura Lippmans unique storytelling and love of the genre, mystery awards will surely keep pouring in. Madison County Herald, Mississippi
Lippman has enriched literature as a whole. Chicago Sun-Times
“Lippman, a Baltimore native, skillfully brings the racial and economic tensions of her middle-class neighborhood to life in this poignant page-turner.” Daily News
“Lippman knows exactly what shes doing.” Seattle Times
“Succeeds brilliantly... Lippman is in total command of her material, weaving strands about race, family myths and self-deception into a mystery so taut the reader is nearly afraid to keep goingand simultaneously powerless to stop. People
Praise for What Has Become of You
"Watson's twisty plot speeds with page-turning momentum, but what's likely to stick with you are the complex characters...who are, by turns, vulnerable, flawed, and surprising, bravely struggling to rewrite the stories of their lives." - Publishers Weekly, starred review
"A precocious teenager. A teacher who can't quite grow up. What Has Become of You is a suspenseful and tightly plotted thriller, filled with vivid and memorable characters, each with her own compelling voice." -Alafair Burke, author of If You Were Here, Long Gone, and the Ellie Hatcher series
“What has Become of You could be used as a manual for teachers of adolescents: beware of the dangers of overwork, of identity loss, of the mistrust of authority. Jan Elizabeth Watson, our poet of the macabre, has written a moving, page-turning, and ultimately terrifying account of a few months in a great teachers life. Ill never trust a teenager again!” --Bill Roorbach, author of Life Among Giants and The Remedy for Love
“It takes a lot to creep me out--I spent my youth reading Stephen King under the covers--but Jan Elizabeth Watson has more than succeeded in this gripping literary thriller. Part gloss on The Catcher in the Rye, part millennial The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, What Has Become of You is that rare beast: a page-turner that asks dark, difficult questions about the state of contemporary American society.” -Joanna Smith Rakoff, author of A Fortunate Age
“The power of What Has Become of You sneaks up on you, until you are turning the pages compulsively. Give yourself over to it. Youre in the hands of an expert." -Rebecca Goldstein, author of The Mind-Body Problem and Thirty-Six Arguments for the Existence of God: A Work of Fiction
“A thriller that is both smart and daring. My advice, readers: Strap on your seatbelts, and remember to lean into the curves. What Has Become of You is one heck of a ride.” --Adam Braver, author of November 22, 1963 and Mr. Lincolns Wars
“What Has Become of You is a gripping psychological exploration of the teacher-student relationship, and a very scary mystery, too. This is a satisfying and rewarding novel, and an important one, by a very skilled storyteller.” --Laura Kasischke, author of Mind of Winter and The Raising
“A thrilling, yet thoughtful look at the violence, both emotional and physical, that haunts the lives of teenage girls. She captures the desires and rage of the high school students and their seemingly prim teacher in a story that's suspenseful, insightful and often very witty… The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie meets Mean Girls." --Rebecca Godfrey author of The Torn Skirt and Under the Bridge
"With a delicate touch and a quiet confidence, Jan Elizabeth Watson delivers a suspenseful and intricately drawn tale of a small New England town. Her characters will haunt readers long after the last page is turned." --Lori Roy, winner of the Edgar Award for Bent Road and finalist for Until She Comes Home
PRAISE FOR JAN ELIZABETH WATSON AND ASTA IN THE WINGS
“A vivid and suspenseful narrative.”
- Margot Livesey, author of The Missing World and Criminals
“Her voice is unforgettable. . . . The novel rachets up an almost uncomfortable level of suspense.”
- The Christian Science Monitor
“Full of the wonderment and matter-of-factness of youth, and her eye-opening trip into reality is flawlessly executed.”
- Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Extraordinary debut novel . . . A cleverly constructed, beautifully written first novel from a gifted new writer.”
- Booklist (starred review)
"A subtler take on the high-tension ghost story."
"The Diviner's Tale is vividly imagined and carefully plotted...an ambitious book, an attempt to explore the heart's mysteries by means of stories and images of the rolling profusion of language."
—New York Times Book Review
"Morrow quietly drops clues as he guides you deeper into the mystery of the dead girl -- and into Cass's own mind."
—New York Times
"With The Diviner's Tale, Morrow demonstrates...that one need not sacrifice literary chops for more commercial leanings when the two are easily and readily combined."
—Sarah Weinman for The Los Angeles Times
A "solid gothic-infused tale of family secrets. ... Morrow (Ariel's Crossing) beautifully evokes Cassandra's inner turmoil..."
"A committed dowser but reluctant psychic is the winsome protagonist of this sixth novel from Morrow (Ariels Crossing, 2002, etc.), which occupies a middle ground between domestic realism and Gothic suspense...Morrow does a fine job portraying a family whose love transcends sharply conflicting worldviews..."
"In his sublime new novel The Diviners Tale, Bradford Morrow accomplishes the deep, subtle miracle I have been waiting and waiting for someone to effect—he gives us the first novel-length work of fiction that actually does create a seamless breathing breathtaking unity of the literary and the suspense novel. This novel detonates the very notion of genre. And it works because it is riveting, insightful, sentence by sentence charged with feeling, as it bears us helpless with it on its downward journey to illumination."
—Peter Straub, author of Ghost Story and A Dark Matter
"Bradford Morrow, like the diviner-heroine of The Diviners Tale, is a mesmerizing storyteller who casts an irresistible spell. He has constructed an ingeniously plotted mystery that is at the same time a love story—luminous and magical, fraught with suspense, beautifully and subtly rendered—a feat of prose divination."
—Joyce Carol Oates, author of A Fair Maiden
"Bradford Morrow is a force of nature. I have already publicly used the word ‘masterpiece about one of his books, Trinity Fields. It is a measure of this writer that I must invoke the word again, and about a novel that not only contains pitch-perfect, surpassingly beautiful line-to-line writing but that finds in fictional genre forms both narrative excitement and profound human insight fully as successfully as Dostoevsky did with murder mysteries and Melville did with sea adventures. The Diviners Tale will not only delight, it will endure."
—Robert Olen Butler, author of A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain and Hell
"An astonishing dark gem of a novel, The Diviner's Tale is a gorgeously written, deeply unsettling thriller that kept me reading long past my bedtime for three nights in a row. I don't regret a moment of it, and neither will you; I loved this book."
—Elizabeth Hand, author of Generation Loss and Ilyria
"Superb. The only thing I did for two straight days was read this book—it really is that riveting. It reminded me of the greatest Hitchcock films that were somehow alchemically able to combine suspense, wonder, and romance all in one seamless story that kept you guessing and gasping right up until the end. A long time fan of Morrows work, I can honestly say this is the best hes ever done."
—Jonathan Carroll, author of The Wooden Sea and The Ghost in Love
"Bradford Morrows The Diviners Tale packs a mighty emotional wallop. This haunting portrayal of a woman possessed by irresistible visions which draw her through mystery and terror to cataclysmic self-discovery is both chilling and impossible to put down. Morrow is at the top of his form: bold, original, and mesmerizing. Truly a stunning achievement."
—Valerie Martin, author of The Confessions of Edward Day
"Bradford Morrow's beautifully written and tautly paced novel brings the old and all but forgotten gift of divination into the modern world. With the aptly named but thoroughly contemporary Cassandra as the book's flawlessly rendered voice, Morrow has created a woman both heroic in what she seeks and human in what she finds. The Diviner's Tale is about past crimes and future consequences, a tale whose subtle and mysterious confluences are as elusive as water underground."
—Thomas H. Cook, author of The Last Talk with Lola Faye
"The Diviners Tale is Morrow's most ambitious novel yet. He deftly wicks the literary and the paranormal into a single strand, making us wonder why we ever thought of the two as separate, and then uses this thread to weave a perfectly articulated mystery. The result is a sly masterpiece by a truly marvelous stylist that will cause you to question what you thought you knew about both genre and literature. Triply satisfying, The Diviner's Tale is a virtuoso performance."
—Brian Evenson, author of The Open Curtain and Fugue State
"The Diviner's Tale is chilling and unexpectedly powerful... Morrow writes extraordinay literary thrillers, giving us beautiful language while telling an old-fashioned, nail-biting story."
Past and present, truth and memory collide in this searing novel from the award winning, New York Times bestselling author
A successful memoirist returns home to Baltimore searching for inspiration for her next book. When she discovers an old classmate is accused of a heinous crime, she decides to braid this tragic story with reminiscences of her grade school years. To the writer's dismay, her friends--motivated by anger, perhaps jealousy--seem determined to sabotage her efforts, leaving her to persevere alone.
As she digs deeper into the tragedy surrounding her old classmate, the writer begins to see that everything she thought she knew about her life might be quite different. And if she wants to pursue the truth in this modern-day story, she may have to pay the price of living with uncomfortable truths, about her father, her past, and herself.
With her deep intelligence, unerring eye for detail, and unwavering compassion, Laura Lipmann raises difficult, illuminating questions about the nature of memory and truth. Life Sentences explores the stories we tell ourselves about ourselves, asking whether anyone can truly own any story--even their own.
Author Cassandra Fallows believes she may have found the story that could become her next bestseller. When she was a girl growing up in a racially diverse middle-class neighborhood in Baltimore, a shy, quiet, unobtrusive child named Calliope Jenkins orbited Cassandra's circle of friends. Later Calliope would be accused of an unspeakable crime and would spend seven years in prison for refusing to speak about it. But 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 devastated not only a family but an entire country.
In rural upstate New York, a disturbing vision of a hanged girl leads diviner Cassandra Brooks and her family into peril, and conjures ghosts from her own haunted childhood. At once a journey of self-discovery and an unorthodox murder mystery, this is a tale of the fantastic and a family chronicle told by an extraordinary woman.
"[A] splendidly written mystery . . . a compelling story.
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 Sun to focus on fiction. She is the author of eleven Tess Monaghan books, including Baltimore Blues, Another Thing to Fall, and The Girl in the Green Raincoat; five stand-alone novels, including Every Secret Thing, To the Power of Three, What the Dead Know, and Life Sentences; and one short story collection, Hardly Knew Her. She is also the editor of another story collection, Baltimore Noir. Lippman has won numerous awards for her work, including the Edgar, Quill, Anthony, Nero Wolfe, Agatha, Gumshoe, Barry, and Macavity.