Discovering a new to me author who has a large body of work makes me feel like I won the lottery. I feel like I’ve won the lottery after reading Laura Lippman’s After I’m Gone (William Morrow). Lippman is well-known for her Tess Monaghan mystery series, but After I’m Gone is written as a stand alone novel.
Retired Detective Sandy Sanchez can’t stay away from his old life. To stay occupied after his wife’s death, he works on cold cases as a consultant for the city of Baltimore. Sanchez digs up an infamous case: the disappearance and murder of Julie, mistress to Felix, a convicted felon that went on the lam in 1976. Felix left more than just his mistress. He also left his wife Bambi and his three daughters, leaving them with nothing. As Sandy visits the old files, he discovers an extremely tangled web of lies.
As someone who lives in the Washington, DC metro area, I’ve slightly familiar with Baltimore. The references to the city and life in the city were spot on. There’s even a line about heading to the grocery store for bread, milk, and toilet paper before an impending snowstorm. That gave me a chuckle. Turns out Lippman was a reporter for The (Baltimore) Sun for twelve years. She knows Baltimore. When an author knows her setting well, it makes the reading experience much more enjoyable.
The core of the novel is about how these five women coped with Felix’s disappearance. While Sandy unveils the past, we discover how living without a this major figure in their lives have shaped who they are. I wanted to discover the truth as much as Sandy did, but the main draw was Julie, Bambi and Felix’s daughters. I couldn’t put down the book as Sandy came closer and closer to the truth.
I absolutely loved After I’m Gone and look forward to reading more of Lippman’s books. For fans of Tess Monaghan, there’s a nice little surprise at the end of for you!
P.S. If you’re in the DC area, Laura Lippman will be at Politics & Prose bookstore on Feb 21. The event is free and open to the public.
I received a review copy of the book. This post contains affiliate links.