REVIEW: WHAT THE DEAD KNOW, BY LAURA LIPPMAN

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In 1976, two young girls, Sunny and Heather Bethany, went missing from Baltimore.

Now, thirty years later, a young woman with no identification, dubbed Jane Doe, has an auto accident that leads to a series of statements on her part, and a joint effort by police, a social worker, and an attorney to discern the truth in what she has to say.

Could she, as she claims, be Heather Bethany? If not, why does she know so many details of the events, as well as private information that only an “insider” could have?

What the Dead Know was narrated by various players in the story, from Miriam and Dave Bethany, the parents, to the present day investigators. We also read the narrative of the Jane Doe character, and try to ascertain her credibility.

Flashbacks convey much of the story through these narrators, and as the story unfolds, we are soon trying to decide if we believe Jane Doe’s statements, or if she has conned us.

I found the details about how the character achieved her numerous identities to be fascinating, and much in line with what we know about how such new identities are obtained. I liked this quote: “Like a bird who moved into abandoned nests, she had inhabited the lives of long-dead girls…”

In the final twist, which I did not see coming, the facts and details came together to give us a most satisfying conclusion. While not my favorite book by this author, I still will not forget it, and enjoyed the numerous ins and outs and twists and turns. 4 stars.

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2 thoughts on “REVIEW: WHAT THE DEAD KNOW, BY LAURA LIPPMAN

    • I really loved it, Patty, and I remember adding it to my list when it came out. So when I noticed it on a blog, I thought I must have read it already, but my check with Goodreads revealed that I had not. So I downloaded it!

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