Trish’s book of the day, 3/17/2009

images3Life Sentences, by Laura Lippman

I know, I know, I’m supposed to be writing about children’s books, but I just couldn’t put this book down!  Laura Lippman has long been one of my favorites, but she just gets better and better.  A lifelong Baltimorean, Lippman sets her books in the Baltimore metropolitan area, so there are always familiar places, and that always makes a book more fun to read.

Life Sentences is the story of Cassandra Fallowes, a semi-famous memoirist who returns to Baltimore after many years away, two hit memoirs and, more recently, one failed novel.  In her search for inspiration for her fourth book, she is drawn into an old story that involves a woman she knew slightly at school, a woman who went to jail for seven years on contempt charges after refusing to speak about the disappearance of her baby.

The story takes many twists and turns, and there are many secrets revealed in the course of the book, as well as details about Cassandra’s relationships with her former friends and her family.  The historical part of the story takes place against the backdrop of the death of Martin Luther King, Jr. and its aftermath.  There are questions raised about Cassandra’s ethics, and about her perception of what happened all those years ago, not the least by Cassandra herself.  For a good part of the book, I had trouble caring about Cassandra because she seemed so self-involved, but by the end I was truly moved by her journey.

I would recommend this book to anyone who loves Laura Lippman, mysteries, or good writing and storytelling.

Life Sentences, $24.99, William Morrow


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