The Most Dangerous Thing
Review: Laura Lippman pens a complex account of childhood friends reflecting on how their adult lives might today be different had they not lied about something when they were teens in The Most Dangerous Thing.
Mickey, Gwen, Sean, Tim and Gordon have drifted apart as the years passed. When "Go Go" Gordon dies, the remaining four are reunited to mourn him. But just getting together causes them to wonder what their lives might have been like had they never been friends.
Mickey and Gwen, the two girls, met as 10-year-olds. The three boys, all brothers, lived nearby. They likened themselves to a five-pointed star, five individual triangles bound together by a pentagon, which collectively held their joys and disappointments, and their secrets. They played together, rode their bikes on streets when they weren't supposed to, and went deeper into the park then they were allowed. In short, they were being kids. One day they found an old run-down cabin deep in the woods. It looked like no one lived there, but someone did: an old man with a guitar, who was there as often as not. One stormy night Mickey and "Go Go" went to the cabin. The old man was there but chased them away. When the two friends returned, they told the others that the old man had fallen and hit his head on a rock in the creek. All five went back to see if he was all right, but he wasn't. The man was dead.
Now, thirty years later, "Go Go" is dead. He drove his car into a concrete wall at the end of a highway. An accident? Suicide? Will the former friends be able to face the secrets of their past and understand what has happened, not only to Gordon, but to each other?
In many ways, "Laura Lippman" is synonymous with "crime fiction". She is a brand unto herself. But readers looking at The Most Dangerous Thing to be a crime novel may be sorely disappointed. To be completely fair, there's nothing on the book's dust jacket to suggest that this is a "mystery" or "thriller" or "novel of suspense", and it's probably unreasonable to assume that all the author is capable of writing about is crime. Still, one does have expectations, especially given the book's title. To be sure, it's an interesting tale, but a frequently confusing one given the sheer number of characters and points of view. That, in and of itself, isn't necessarily a problem, but the manner in which the book is written, narrated if you will, gives the book an uneven feel, and raises more questions than are answered. Possibly that latter point is intentional on the part of the author, but all the same, it's a little bit of a let-down in the end.
Special thanks to guest reviewer Betty of The Betz Review for contributing her review of The Most Dangerous Thing.
Acknowledgment: HarperCollins provided a copy of The Most Dangerous Thing for this review.
Review Copyright © 2011 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
Selected reviews of other mysteries by this author …
The Girl in the Green Raincoat
William Morrow (Trade Paperback), January 2011
ISBN-13: 9780061938368; ISBN-10: 006193836X
And When She Was Good
William Morrow (Hardcover), August 2012
ISBN-13: 9780061706875; ISBN-10: 0061706876
Location(s) referenced in The Most Dangerous Thing: Baltimore, Maryland.
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The Most Dangerous Thing by Laura Lippman
Publisher: William Morrow
Publication Date: August 2011
List Price: $25.99