Skip to main content
Displaying 1 of 1
Every secret thing
2003
Where is it?
First Chapter or Excerpt
Every Secret Thing A Novel Chapter One " Interesting ," the ophthalmologist said, rolling away from Cynthia Barnes in his wheeled chair, like a water bug skittering for cover when the lights went on in the middle of the night. "Not exactly my favorite word in a doctor's office." Cynthia tried to sound lighthearted. The metal apparatus was cold and heavy on her face, and although it wasn't literally attached, she couldn't help feeling as if she were in a vise. Each flick of the doctor's wrist -- Better here? Or here? Here? Or here? -- seemed to tighten the machine's grip on her. "Good interesting," he said, rolling back to her. "Now, is it clearer with the first one or" -- he flipped something, inserted something, she had never been sure what he was doing -- "or this one." "Could I see those again?" She sounded tentative, even to her ears, which shamed her. Cynthia still remembered what she was like back when she was always sure about things. "Absolutely. This one" -- the letter O, bold but a little wavy around the edges, as if it were underwater -- "or this one." This O was not quite as bright, yet it was clearer. "The second one?" "There are no right answers here, Cynthia. An eye exam isn't a test." He chuckled at his own wit. "The second one." "Good. Now is it better with this one or" -- another flip -- "this one." "The first one. Definitely the first one." "Good." She felt a little glow of pride, then embarrassment for caring at all. She had arrived at the doctor's office on a wave of apologies, having skipped her annual exam for the last three years, despite the friendly little postcards that arrived every spring. She was AWOL from the dentist, too. And she might have passed on this eye exam, if it weren't for her younger sister's sly observation that Cynthia was squinting more often these days. "You keep straining like that, you're going to have one of those little dents," said Sylvia, who had never forgiven Cynthia for getting the one pair of green eyes in their generation. "Better reading glasses than Botox." Cynthia had almost snapped: Get off my damn back, I've earned that dent . Instead she had made this appointment with Dr. Silverstein, who had moved to the northern suburbs since she saw him last. Satisfied, Dr. Silverstein swung the machine off her face, returned her contact lenses to her, along with a tissue to catch the saline tears that flowed from the corners of her eyes. He was younger than she, it dawned on her. He must have just been starting out when she first went to him thirteen years ago. She wondered how those years had treated him, if his life had gone according to his expectations and plans. "Well, I've seen this before, "Dr. Silverstein said, smiling so broadly that his dimples showed, "but I've seen few cases as pronounced as this." Cynthia was not comforted by the smile. She had known too many people whose expressions had nothing to do with what they were about to say. "What? What?" I'm going blind, I have a tumor behind one of my eyes, which explains the headaches . But she hadn't told Dr. Silverstein about the headaches. Should she? "Your eyes are getting better , Cynthia. We see this sometimes in people who have worn contact lenses for a long time. Nearsightedness improves. You've been having trouble focusing on things because your contacts are old and pocked by protein deposits, not because you need a new prescription." "What about reading glasses?" "Not yet." "Good. I've heard that if you get reading glasses, your close-up vision gets worse and worse." "Ah, yes, that old wives'tale. It doesn't quite work that way." Dr. Silverstein picked up a model of the human eye, which Cynthia found disgusting. She hated to visualize what lay beneath the fragile veneer of skin, always had. She was nauseated at the sight of flattened squirrels and cats in her eighborhood, and a passing glimpse of one of those surgery shows on cable could send her into a near faint. "There's a muscle that controls the lens of your eye, if you will. It gets rigid with age ... " His voice trailed off when he realized Cynthia was staring over his shoulder, refusing to make eye contact with him or his plastic model. "Anyway, no reading glasses yet, just a new contact lens prescription. These should be ready in a week. Should the nurse call you at home or at work?" "Home. I haven't worked in years." Dr. Silverstein blinked, suddenly awkward. He was one of the people who had never had a chance to say, "I'm sorry," because the tragedy was almost a year in the past by the time he saw her at her annual exam. Cynthia's life was full of such acquaintances, well-meaning types who had been left stranded by the tenuousness of their connection. Doctors, mechanics, accountants. She remembered the April immediately following, when Warren asked the accountant how one calculated for a dependent who had not survived the calendar year. Did they take the full credit, or did Olivia's death mean they had to prorate the deduction? For Warren and Cynthia, who had already asked a thousand questions they had never planned to ask -- questions about burials and caskets and plots and the scars left by autopsies -- it was just another dreary postscript. The accountant had looked so stricken she had wanted to comfort him . She was beyond that now. Every Secret Thing A Novel . Copyright © by Laura Lippman. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold. Excerpted from Every Secret Thing: A Novel by Laura Lippman All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.
Fiction/Biography Profile
Awards
2004 - Barry Award for Best Novel nominee
Characters
Nancy Porter (Female), Police detective, Investigated the baby-murder case seven years earlier
Mira Jenkins (Female), Reporter, Ambitious
Alice Manning (Female), Ex-convict, Dutiful; served seven years for the murder of an infant
Ronnie Fuller (Female), Ex-convict, Unpredictable; served seven years for the murder of an infant
Genre
Fiction
Mystery
Psychological
Suspense
Topics
Child murderers
Ex-convicts
Teenage girls
Mothers and daughters
Missing children
Suspicion
Secrets
Setting
Baltimore, Maryland - Mid-Atlantic States (U.S.)
Time Period
2000s -- 21st century
Large Cover Image
Trade Reviews

  Library Journal Review

With her first stand-alone novel (after seven mysteries featuring Baltimore PI Tess Monaghan, the latest being The Last Place), Lippman proves equally adept at character-based psychological suspense. Seven years after Olivia Barnes, a black baby from a prominent family, dies at the hands of two 11-year-old white girls, children start disappearing for brief periods. Then a three-year-old is presumed kidnapped, with bloody evidence left behind. Suspicion points toward the two girls convicted of the earlier crime, now newly released from juvenile detention: Alice Manning, the "good girl" who claimed she was not there when Olivia died, and Ronnie Fuller, the "bad girl" and presumed murderer. This is not easy subject matter, with children as both victims and perpetrators, but the novel is notable not only for Lippman's skill in creating complex female characters-particularly the mothers of Olivia and Alice as well as the two girls themselves-but also for her subtle way of building suspense by ever so gradually revealing the true accounts of both the earlier and the current crimes. Essential for popular fiction collections, particularly for fans of Ruth Rendell and Minette Walters.-Michele Leber, formerly with Fairfax Cty. P.L., VA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

  Publishers Weekly Review

With this engrossing mystery/suspense stand-alone novel, Lippman, winner of the Edgar, Shamus and Agatha awards for her series featuring likable heroine Tess Monaghan (Baltimore Blues; Charm City; The Last Place) solidifies her position in the upper tier of today's suspense novelists. Two 11-year-old children-good girl Alice Manning and bad girl Ronnie Fuller-wander homeward in Baltimore after being kicked out of a friend's pool party. They discover a baby in an unattended carriage by the front door of a house and steal it away. The reader watches in horror, knowing what will come next. The baby dies, and Alice and Ronnie are imprisoned for seven years. The mystery involves which girl did the killing, and which was the dupe. After release from prison, their blighted lives move inexorably toward further horror and tragedy. Lippman slowly relinquishes the facts of her story, building suspense as she reveals the past. Her well-honed prose is particularly suited to descriptions that impart more than just appearances: "Holly was one of those people who seemed to be put together with higher quality parts than everyone else"; "...there was something menacing in the very fineness of his bones, as if a bigger boy had been boiled down until all that remained was this concentrated bit of rage and bile." With this book, much darker than any in her past series, Lippman shows she is an author willing to take risks in both writing and storytelling. Her deft handling of this disturbing material is sure to increase the breadth of her readership.(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved All rights reserved.

  Booklist Review

Lippman has won just about every mystery writing award there is--the Edgar, the Agatha, the Anthony, the Shamus, and the Nero Wolfe--for her Tess Monaghan series. This is her first stand-alone mystery, one in which the detectives are consigned to bit parts. The fact that the police here do little save go through the motions underscores the fatalistic feeling at the core of this dark domestic tragedy. Lippman writes the kind of opening that should make readers feel they're following helplessly as a nightmare slowly unfolds. Two 10-year-old girls, bounced from a birthday party for bad behavior, discover a baby in a carriage on the sidewalk and deem it necessary to "save" her. Lippman leaves the reader knowing something terrible happened but unsure what it was until the narrative progresses to seven years later, when the two girls are released from prison and return to their homes, six blocks away from the house to which they brought untold grief. The girls have to adjust to a new prison of neighborhood suspicion. Then, as the girls make somewhat of a new life, children start disappearing, and then reappearing, until one toddler is well and truly missing. Lippman doesn't write a standard whodunit here but plays with reader expectations of what should happen next. A startling page-turner. ConnieFletcher.
Summary
<p>"This is a standout."<br> --Orlando Sentinel<br> <br> "One of those books that publishers like to say 'transcends the genre,' but in this case it's true."<br> --Chicago Sun-Times</p> <p>Every Secret Thing is a riveting story of love and murder, guilt and innocence, adult sins and childhood darkness that the New York Times Book Review hailed as, "powerful...disturbing." Stepping away from her acclaimed, award-winning mystery series featuring Baltimore private investigator Tess Monaghan, author Laura Lippman has delivered a novel of psychological suspense that will shock and mesmerize readers, gripping them to the page while breaking their hearts. The tale of a terrible event that devastates three families, after two young girls discover by of an unsupervised baby on an empty street, Every Secret Thing is a bravura demonstration of the extraordinary storytelling skill that has won Laura Lippman every major literary prize bestowed upon mystery writers, including the Edgar#65533;, the Anthony, the Shamus, and the Agatha Awards.<br></p>
Librarian's View
Displaying 1 of 1