Wilde Lake

Wilde Lake

by Laura Lippman


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The New York Times bestselling author of the acclaimed standalones After I’m Gone, I’d Know You Anywhere, and What the Dead Know, challenges our notions of memory, loyalty, responsibility, and justice in this evocative and psychologically complex story about a long-ago death that still haunts a family.

Luisa “Lu” Brant is the newly elected—and first female—state’s attorney of Howard County, Maryland, a job in which her widower father famously served. Fiercely intelligent and ambitious, she sees an opportunity to make her name by trying a mentally disturbed drifter accused of beating a woman to death in her home. It’s not the kind of case that makes headlines, but peaceful Howard county doesn’t see many homicides.

As Lu prepares for the trial, the case dredges up painful memories, reminding her small but tight-knit family of the night when her brother, AJ, saved his best friend at the cost of another man’s life. Only eighteen, AJ was cleared by a grand jury. Now, Lu wonders if the events of 1980 happened as she remembers them. What details might have been withheld from her when she was a child?

The more she learns about the case, the more questions arise. What does it mean to be a man or woman of one’s times? Why do we ask our heroes of the past to conform to the present’s standards? Is that fair? Is it right? Propelled into the past, she discovers that the legal system, the bedrock of her entire life, does not have all the answers. Lu realizes that even if she could learn the whole truth, she probably wouldn’t want to.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780062083463
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 02/14/2017
Pages: 384
Sales rank: 210,171
Product dimensions: 5.30(w) x 7.90(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

Since Laura Lippman's debut in 1997, she has been recognized as a distinctive voice in mystery fiction and named one of the "essential" crime writers of the last 100 years. Her books have won most of the major awards in her field and been translated into more than twenty languages. She lives in Baltimore and New Orleans with her family.


Baltimore, Maryland

Date of Birth:

January 31, 1959

Place of Birth:

Atlanta, Georgia


B.S., Medill School of Journalism, Northwestern University, 1981

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Wilde Lake: A Novel 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 15 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I don't really know what to say about his book. It wasn't bad, but it wasn't good either. I had high expectations for this book because I'd heard how wonderful Ms. Lippman's writing is, but it seemed lackluster to me. It didn't make me feel any emotions, it didn't evoke clear images of a setting or the characters. Although I never considered not finishing the book, I didn't look forward to reading the next passage the way I like to.  The story moves between Lu Brant's memories of her childhood and the present day. I had a hard time knowing what the two different viewpoints had to do with each other, and it wasn't until near the end that it was truly clear that they were related. Many of the details of her childhood weren't important to the plot. There were no thrills, and the twists, if you'd call them that, weren't at all shocking. The story moves very slowly and doesn't advance the plot until near the end, and by then I didn't really care what happened. I wasn't that invested in the characters to care. Since it wasn't poorly written but didn't trip my trigger, I'll rate this book 3 out of 5 stars. Although I wouldn't recommend it to my friends, I wouldn't discourage anyone from reading it. I will read another of her books and see if her writing shines more in that one. 
GratefulGrandma More than 1 year ago
This is the first Laura Lippman book I have read and I reallly enjoyed it. It is hard to describe what genre this book belongs to. There is a crime/legal story line but there is also a huge dramatic aspect with family and small town relationships being a huge part of the story. The Brant family have moved to the small designed community of Columbia in Howard County Maryland. The kids go to Wilde Lake high school and it is a close knit community. Lu Brant has married and moved away, but came back home when her husband died. She ran for and was elected State's Attorney for the county. While investigating for an upcoming murder trial she begins to uncover information about a murder from 35 years earlier that her brother was involved in. Lu is a tenacious lawyer and investigator and can not let it go. She continues to ask questions and investigate even when it is no longer important for the trial. She is a somewhat unlikable character due to her competitive nature and rather brusque personality, but she does what she feels she needs to to. This story explores family relationships, community relationships involving childhood friends, lies of omission, what people will do to protect one another and the legal system itself. It is told from Lu's point of view in both the past and the present. Even though it kept going back and forth in time, I had no problem following the story. The characters were very well fleshed out. You got to know them and their motivations. I really enjoyed this story and recommend it to anyone who enjoys legal dramas and family relationship stories.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I like the back and forth in time to tell the whole story.
gloriafeit More than 1 year ago
From the publisher: Luisa “Lu” Brant is the newly elected state’s attorney of Howard County, Maryland, a job in which her widower father famously served. Fiercely intelligent and ambitious, she sees an opportunity to burnish her reputation by trying a homeless man accused of beating a woman to death in her home. It’s not the kind of case that makes national headlines, but peaceful Howard County doesn’t see many homicides. As Lu prepared for the trial, the case dredges up painful memories, reminding her small but tight-knit family of the night when her brother, AJ, saved his best friend at the cost of another man’s life. Only eighteen at the time, AJ was found to have acted in self-defense. Now Lu wonders if the events of 1980 happened as she remembers them. Long discrete memories begin to fit together, revealing connections and secrets that Lu never suspected. The more she learns about her new case, the more questions arise about the past. Why was her brother’s friend attacked? Who was the true victim? Lu discovers that the legal system, the bedrock of her entire life, can no longer provide comfort or even reliable answers. If there is such a thing as the whole truth, Lu realizes - - possibly too late - - that she would be better off not knowing what it is. The novel opens in June of 1980, as the graduating class is celebrating their graduation from Wilde Lake High School. Lu is eight years younger than her adored brother, AJ, “a good athlete, a gifted singer and actor, an outstanding student,” is planning to go Yale, their father’s alma mater. Suffice it to say that the next day’s headline was “State’s Attorney’s Son Saves Friend’s Life in Brutal Revenge Plot.” There is much more to the events that happened that day than this headline conveys. The tale then switches to January of 2015, where Lu is in conversation with her former boss, Fred Hollister, whose job as Baltimore City state’s attorney [the first female in that position] she has just taken when the results of the recent election are known. She and her husband, Gabe, are the parents of twins, until suddenly, at 39, he died of a heart attack, when the twins were not quite 3 years old. At age 40, she accepts her father’s offer of a job, being the one in the family with “the chops for criminal law, the stomach for politics,” and who has never lost a case in Howard County and “doesn’t plan to start now.” She finds herself thinking back to when her parents were first married and had their wonderful house on Wilde Lake, four months after which Lu was born, seven days after which her mother died. The Brant family members are all very competitive, in their personal and professional lives, and all fascinating characters. Then Lu gets a case that will test all her talents, a murder trial with varied challenges. This is but the newest of this author’s wonderful novels, giving us wonderful insights into her remarkable protagonists and their geographical surroundings, and it’s right up there with all the others, i.e., highly recommended.
Samantha1020 More than 1 year ago
This may be my first book by this author but it certainly won't be my last. What I liked most about this book was how the mystery gradually built up throughout the story. This isn't your typical thriller where every page is filled with suspense and mystery. Instead this is a quieter book where the tension slowly builds up until a very strong ending. I loved the way that this book was set up with the story line flipping between the past and present. Everything is told from Lu's viewpoint and what made that an interesting choice is that Lu was so young when everything happened. So really her viewpoint is a child's viewpoint and it made me question how she remembered things. She recounted things that happened in a way that the reader was able to tell more was going on than she fully understood. It made for a very interesting read and I enjoyed every minute of it. This wasn't a book that I rushed through. Instead I took my time with it and just enjoyed the reading experience. Although this was quieter novel, it did have some pretty intense moments by the end of it. I found myself intrigued by all of the secrets that this story seemed to contain. The Goodread's summary (I didn't include this part) compares this to To Kill a Mockingbird and I can see the similarities. Obviously this is a very different book but there were just enough things that made the comparison seem valid. Reading that comparison had me thinking about the book in a different way than I had been while reading. Don't you love when that happens? I find myself appreciating this book all over again! Although I took my time reading this one, there hit a certain point of the book where I just couldn't put it down. I found myself reading late into the night because I just needed to see how the book would end. Overall, I really enjoyed reading this book and am eager to read more by this author. I don't know what I expected when I picked this book up but I feel like this surpassed my expectations. I love when I find books like this where they are just a different and refreshing change of pace. This story still had a mystery too but it was much more character driven. I loved that we got the chance to really get to know these characters throughout the story. It was just a really enjoyable read and I want more books just like it. I would recommend this book to a variety of readers: mystery and suspense fans along with those readers that enjoy character driven novels. Recommended! Bottom Line: A quiet mystery that I really enjoyed! Disclosure: I received a copy of this book thanks to the publisher as part of a TLC book tour.
Honolulubelle More than 1 year ago
Favorite Quotes: ‘Jonnie Forke.’ Lu, aware that her trouble with names and faces is a liability for a politician, plays her favorite private game of trying to construct a mnemonic trick. Stick a fork in her, she’s Jonnie. Heeeeeeeeere’s Jonnie – with a Forke for her butterface. Noel taught us the valuable lesson that making a spectacle of yourself was sometimes the best way to get people to stop noticing you. Noel lived his life based on this premise, although he would have been heartbroken if he weren’t the center of attention when he wanted to be. He was that rare young person who understood exactly who he was what he needed – and that his parents, his friends, the world at large, were not ready for this information. It is possible to anticipate something so ferociously then one day forget that it’s happening at all. Part of this is the passage to adulthood; birthdays fade in importance, holidays become something to be endured. I know there are grown-ups who still become excited about Christmas, although I find them suspect. After our mother was gone, nothing the touched could be changed… AJ, meanwhile, would not speak of her at all. Although not generally selfish, he hoarded his memories of our mother as if they might evaporate in the open air. My Review: Wilde Lake was a smartly written and cleverly paced spider web of intricately woven family secrets that snared me and held me fast. It was stellar! The storyline was multi-layered and craftily exposed, and lushly detailed with vivid and evocative visuals. I enjoyed every timeline, flashback, secret, plot twist, and character. Laura Lippman is a gifted and skilled scribe. I reveled in her acumen and adored her character of Lu. Lu was whip-smart yet admittedly flawed and had no problem confessing her worst traits. She was overwhelmingly curious with a deep-seated competitive need to “win” as a child as well as an adult, and these intelligent traits caused considerable consternation to her taciturn father. As a child she considered herself an ever-alert sleuth, always watchful but not always able to comprehend what she observed, but wily enough to store it away for future leverage. I took great enjoyment in her efforts to make sense of confusing data through the limited tools and reference materials available to her - the baby-sitter’s soap operas, her father’s dictionary, and her favorite television program of Angie Dickinson’s Police Women. How disillusioning it would be to discover your entire childhood was a prevarication, or to use a current buzz phrase, couched in alternate facts. I was enthralled and engrossed with the story throughout, although the revelations in the final chapters were rapid, stunning, and heart stopping. I am breathless with awe.
BuriedUnderBooks More than 1 year ago
If I had to name just one crime fiction writer who I think is the best out there, not only at creating stories that grip me from the beginning but who also has a sure hand with words, it would have to be Laura Lippman, hands down. I first met Ms. Lippman years ago when I had my bookstore and would run into her at book conventions but I fell in booklove with her very first novel, Baltimore Blues, a few years earlier and I admire her work today even more than I did back then. That comes as no surprise because each succeeding book has been exponentially better than those that have gone before. Wilde Lake is no exception. There are secrets in the Brant family but, since the death of Lu's mother shortly after her birth, Lu and her brother, AJ, and their dad have made a comfortable life for themselves and Lu practically worships their father, a virtual paragon. Over the years, though, these secrets have festered beneath the surface and the day finally comes when truths begin to come out, triggered by Lu's first case as state's attorney for Howard County. No one could possibly have guessed that this trial of a homeless man would become so crucial to the Brants and their past. Lu is the character who really stands out and she's a lesson in what a Type A personality is all about. Driven all her life to be perfect, to get nothing wrong, to be like her father, she's more than a bit cold and ambitious but she still wants to do what's right and she's compassionate and likeable. Her controlling nature and her focus on the present have allowed those family secrets to remain hidden for years but when some things begin to come to light, the door is wide open and Lu goes through it. Much of what she learns is devastating but getting to the truth and questioning memories is going to change lives forever. Ms. Lippman is the author of both series and standalones and Wilde Lake is one of the latter. In a way, I'm sorry about that because I'd like to see who Lu becomes now that there have been so many changes in her life but I'll just have to look forward to whatever this wonderful author will be bringing us next. In the meantime, Wilde Lake will go on my list of favorite books read in 2016.
WanderRoxyReads More than 1 year ago
Louise “Lu” Brant has been elected the first woman state’s attorney for Howard County in Maryland. Lu lands her first murder trial as state’s attorney shortly after taking office. During Lu’s preparation for the trial, she discovers a link between her current murder case to a tragic event in 1980. In the fall of 1980, her brother, AJ, and friends were at a party on Wilde Lake. Events during the party led to the unfortunate death of a man, a family friend accused of the murder, and her brother braking his arm. Wilde Lake, labeled as a crime novel, is more a story of family, secrets, friendships, and loyalty. The characters of Wilde Lake were well developed. The plot, although not well driven, has a few twists and turns. If you are looking for a quick read, a crime novel with a slight hint of mystery, pick up this read. I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Virginiaw More than 1 year ago
This is a wonderful stand alone addition to Laura Lippman's books. I did not want to put this down. There were so many twists and turns. Luisa Brant is a state attorney and is trying a murder case that leads her to remember what happened to her family and friends over 35 years earlier. I loved this book. I received this book from the author for a fair and honest opinion.
nfmgirl More than 1 year ago
Lu is the new state's attorney in Howard County, Maryland. She has a lot to prove, being the first woman to fill the position, and having had her own father hold the position previously. Lu lost her mother shortly after her birth, and she and her older brother AJ were both raised by their loving but tough widower father and their somewhat detached housekeeper/cook Teensy. Lu didn't have many friends growing up in the small town of Columbia, and was quite awkward in her childhood, but was very familiar with her big brother's group of friends when he was in high school. While in high school, something happened one night while AJ and his friends were unsupervised at one of their houses-- something that will now come full circle many years later, landing smack dab in the middle of Lu's life. I was introduced to the author through her novel And When She Was Good, which I enjoyed, but I liked this one much more. Flashing back and forth between childhood and present day, there is good character development from childhood to late adult, and the transitions were handled quite well. Often when there are these sort of flashbacks, it can be difficult for me to keep track of the timeline. To ease the leaps through time, the author uses dates to track present day, while glances at the past have chapter titles like "OH BRAVE NEW WORLD THAT HAS NO TREES IN IT" and "INTEMPERANCE". This story has dual mysteries-- one from the present involving a murdered woman and one that resurfaces from the past. The story slowly builds both mysteries incrementally, while likewise building suspense. What really happened so long ago with her brother and his friends? Is there a connection to the present day murder? My final word: I really liked this story. This is a mystery novel with some depth. While I often have difficulty with transitions between past and present, I thought the author handled those transitions well in this book. The flashbacks really helped with the character development, which resulted in more multi-dimensional characters. Author Laura Lippman reveals the dual mysteries slowly throughout the story, building tension and suspense, and leading Lu to uncover several unexpected secrets. The author masters the art of suspense, and this book will have you anxious to turn the next page. Thank you, Laura Lippman!
bookchickdi More than 1 year ago
Laura Lippman writes mystery novels that are not only page-turners, they are thought-provoking and very well written. Her latest stand-alone novel is Wilde Lake, set in Baltimore as most of her books are. Lu Brant has just been elected the first female state's attorney in Howard County. She is a single mother of eight-year-old twins, Justin and Penelope, after her wealthy husband died of heart attack. Lu moved back to her childhood home to live with her father, a former state's attorney. The story has two time settings- the present day and when Lu was an eight-year-old girl. Lu's mother died one week after Lu was born, so she never knew her mother. Her brother AJ is eight years older, and the golden boy at his high school. As AJ and his friends were celebrating their upcoming high school graduation, three brothers crashed the party and accused AJ's friend of ruining their sister. A fight broke out, one young man died and AJ's friend was seriously injured. In the present, Lu is proceeding to prosecute the murder of a woman in her apartment. A homeless man is accused of the brutal crime and as the investigation proceeds, the case looks like a slam-dunk for Lu until she digs deeper and finds a connection to an old incident. A woman has also come to Lu claiming that she has information about a famous murder conviction Lu's father had obtained thirty years ago. The woman said that she was the convicted man's alibi but Lu's father ignored her all those years ago. Lippman has said that this story was inspired by Harper Lee's To Kill A Mockingbird. It does have several of the same elements- a young girl worships her honorable lawyer father, a trial that envelops the entire town- and adds many more intriguing ones. Lippman brings her characteristic thoughtfulness to the societal change in attitudes about sex and rape over the last thirty years. She also unravels many secrets in the Brant family and among AJ and his group of high school friends. I love a book that keeps me guessing, and Wilde Lake certainly did that. I actually gasped at one sad event late in the book that I didn't see coming. One thing Lippman excels at is ending the chapter on a sentence that forces you to keep reading, like this one: "Besides, if Fred wanted to make it personal, there were better, juicer-truer-rumors to spread. He just didn't know where to look." How can you stop reading there? The characters in Wilde Lake are fascinating too. From Lu to her father to her brother to even less important ones like AJ's friends Bash and Noel and Teensy, the Brant's housekeeper, all are fully realized people. Wilde Lake is a literary mystery that will keep the reader guessing as she is compulsively turning the pages. It is a worthy homage to To Kill A Mockingbird, but one that stands on its own as a terrific story. I highly recommend it.
Twink More than 1 year ago
I've read all of Laura Lippman's books. I don't bother looking at the flyleaf at all anymore - I just know I'm going to enjoy whatever story she's crafted. Her Tess Monaghan series is a perennial favourite of mine, but the stand alones are just as good. Her latest stand alone, Wilde Lake, has just released. Lu Brant has just been elected as the first female State's Attorney of Howard County, Maryland, filling the chair that her father once held. She decides to make her presence known by taking on a recent murder case - a woman beaten to death in her home by a homeless man. Lippman employs one of my favourite story telling techniques - past and present in alternating chapters. As Lu prepares for the impending court case, names and events from her own past begin to pop up. And so we relive Lu's life from age six until it collides with the present day - with a very loud crash. Ahh, Lippman is such a storyteller. I was immediately caught up in the characters and the plot. Lu is a difficult character, bristly, stubborn and somewhat unpredictable. I felt sympathy for young Lu but funnily enough that sympathy did not extend to adult Lu, even though I knew the past shaped her present. I didn't really like adult Lu at all. There is more than one mystery in Wilde Lake. That of the accused drifter of course, but also events in the past - seemingly all stemming from one night in her brother AJ's life. " Most of what I know about that night is from reading old court documents and press accounts over the past few months." But as we learn more about the Brant family from Lu's memories, it seems that one night is just one event never fully spoken of. There are others. From the outside looking in, the Brants have an idyllic life - from the inside looking out, the view is not quite the same. The mysteries are joined by an exploration of family dynamics, tensions, deceptions, what we would do to protect our families and loved ones and the consequences of those choices. There ate many 'reveals' in the last few chapters. There was one late addition that I thought was a bit of a stretch, but on reflection, I could see the groundwork being laid in the chapters dealing with the past. I enjoyed Wilde Lake - although it's less of a true mystery than some of my favourite Lippman books, it kept me engaged from first page to last. Interesting side note - Lippman grew up in Columbia, Maryland (the setting for this book) and also attended Wilde Lake High School. (also featured)
ABookAWeekES More than 1 year ago
"We always want our heroes to be better than their times, to hold the enlightened views we have achieved one hundred, fifty, ten years later." Luisa "Lu" Brandt's childhood is one of both tragedy and triumph. Her mother died one day after giving birth to Lu, leaving Andrew Jackson Brandt to raise her and her older brother AJ. Mr. Brandt never adapted to the domesticity that being a single father demands, but he did fiercely love his children. Never having a true female role model, other than the family housekeeper Teensy, Lu struggled to find her place in the world. Even in the idealistic community of Columbia, teachers and students were hesitant to accept Lu for the individual free spirit that she was. Throughout the tribulations of adolescence, Lu learned that family was the only thing in life that would never waver. This lesson was cemented into her being on the night that AJ killed a local townsman while defending a friend. Her father used his influence as the State's Attorney to see that the incident was swiftly resolved and didn't cause any unneeded trauma to his son. Years later, Lu finds her life coming full circle. After her husband's untimely death, she relocated herself and her twin children back to her childhood home. Not long after the move, she was elected to hold the very same office her father held years ago. With the shadow of her father's highly revered career looming over her, Lu hits the ground running by taking on a murder case. The incident of a mentally unstable drifter killing a local young woman seems like the perfect way for Lu to assert the power of her new job. But new revelations force Lu to face inconsistencies in her own past and call into question the memories that she holds dear. Readers of Laura Lippman's novels have come to expect intricate mysteries that keep the pages turning and our imaginations working. While Wilde Lake certainly does its part to keep this tradition alive, it is much more a family drama than a conventional thriller. As the story unfolds, the relationship between Lu and her father and brother takes center stage. Yes, there is a mystery that will keep you guessing to the very end, but this mystery is not the central focus of the novel. Rather, the murder case is used to advance the development of the the true nature of the family's narrative. The novel alternates between past and present. The present day sections read like many of Lippman's past efforts. Lu is a flawed character who we can't help but connect with and root for. It is in the sections about Lu's childhood where Lippman offers something refreshingly different. Echoes of Harper Lee's To Kill A Mockingbird permeate the story of a young girl being raised by her lawyer father. The childlike innocence of these portions only add to the suspense of the present day mystery. As past and present collide, Lippman weaves a poignant tale that comments on family loyalty and the vulnerability of memory. Wilde Lake is a stirring work that proves that Lippman is a master of her craft.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Archrived at page 77
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Yay for 3hour car ride and being A.D.D + A.D.H.D!))l walk in wearing a red swim suit