“Wilde Lake” by Laura Lippman – Book Review

An African-American man accused of rape by a humiliated girl.  A vengeful father.  A courageous attorney.  A worshipful daughter.  Think you know this story?  Think again. 

Wilde Lake  is a stand-alone novel by the author of the Tess Monaghan mystery series. The setting, Wilde Lake, is a man-made town that surrounds a manufactured lake in Columbia, Maryland, midway between Baltimore and Washington, D.C.

map featuring Columbia, Maryland

The book is told from the point of view of Luisa Brant, a forty-five year-old state’s attorney. She is widowed and the mother of nine-year old twins.  She and her children live with her father in the house she grew up in.  Her father, himself a former state’s attorney, was also a single parent.  Her mother died just a week after giving birth to Luisa.  Her brother, AJ was eight years old.  She of course has no memory of her mother. AJ says she looked like Norma Talmadge.

“AJ had a mother for eight years. I had one for eight days.”

Each chapter takes place in a different time period.  One in the present, one in the past, and so on. We learn of Luisa’s life as a child in a household where there was little female influence.  We learn that she was always fiercely competitive and remarkably intelligent.  She adored her big brother AJ and his friends.  She seemingly had no friends of her own…

“I learned to ride a bike well and fearlessly that summer I was six years old because I was trying to keep up with two fourteen-year-olds.”

The night of her brother, AJ’s high school graduation was memorable in that one of his best-friends, Davy, was stabbed and rendered a paraplegic.  The teens were partying on Wilde Lake after the graduation ceremony.  bonfireDavy was African American. One of the girls from school accused him of raping her. Her brothers sought revenge.

Luisa’s first case as State’s Attorney involves a brutal murder.  A woman was attacked in her apartment.  The accused is a homeless man.  Luisa feels certain that she will win the case as the evidence against the accused is compelling.

Her personal life she keeps strictly compartmentalized, with her busy career kept completely separate from her home life with her father and children.  She has affairs, but they are only to satisfy her physical needs.  Her husband was the love of her life and since his death of a heart attack, she feels no need to replace him.

This novel is steady paced, not a page-turner by any means.  It slowly flips back and forth from past to present and back again until the reader slowly begins to form an accurate picture of just HOW Luisa’s past – and the case she is working on now –  overlap.

It is this ‘overlap’ that  impacts everything she once believed to be true.  The 20-20 vision of the present, when shone on past events and memories, bring about a clarity that is both disturbing and significant.  This is a novel which questions the accuracy of memory.  Are childhood memories to be trusted?  Without them, what do we have?

“Our minds shape our memories to be something we can bear.”


Slowly, chapter by chapter, the story unfolds. The revelations divulged in the final chapters of the book highlight the writing skill of the author.  Anyone who enjoys articulate, character-rich novels that are a cross between legal thriller and mystery will love “Wilde Lake“.  Family secrets and deceptions abound.  The sins of the past can cast a long shadow indeed.  Recommended!f-4-star

Though the hardcover edition of “Wilde Lake” was available in May of 2016 from William Morrow, the paperback edition has recently been released and is available now.




I am taking part in the TLC Book Tour for this title.

tlc-tour-hostTour Stopswilde-lake-cover-199x300



Tuesday, February 21st: The many thoughts of a reader

Wednesday, February 22nd: 5 Minutes For Books

Thursday, February 23rd: Joyfully Retired

Monday, February 27th: Readaholic Zone

Tuesday, February 28th: Books and Bindings

Wednesday, March 1st: Booked on a Feeling

Thursday, March 2nd: Mockingbird Hill Cottage

Friday, March 3rd: Stephany Writes

Monday, March 6th: Fictionophile

Tuesday, March 7th: Tina Says…

Wednesday, March 8th: Book by Book

Wednesday, March 8th: Thoughts On This ‘n That

Thursday, March 9th: Helen’s Book Blog

Friday, March 10th: Chaos is a Friend of Mine

I am grateful to William Morrow via Edelweiss for providing me with a copy of this novel.


lauraLaura Lippman was a reporter for twenty years, including twelve years at The (Baltimore) Sun. She began writing novels while working full-time and published seven books about “accidental PI” Tess Monaghan before leaving daily journalism in 2001.

Her work has been awarded the Edgar ®, the Anthony, the Agatha, the Shamus, the Nero Wolfe, Gumshoe and Barry awards.

Since Laura Lippman’s debut, she has won multiple awards and critical acclaim for provocative, timely crime novels set in her beloved hometown of Baltimore. Laura has been nominated for more than 50 awards for crime fiction and won almost 20, including the Edgar. Her books have been translated into over twenty languages. Now a perennial New York Times bestselling author, she lives in Baltimore and New Orleans with her family.

About Fictionophile

Fiction reviewer ; Goodreads librarian. Retired library cataloger - more time to read! Loves books, gardening, and red wine. I have been a reviewer member of NetGalley since October 2013. I review titles offered by Edelweiss, and participate in blog tours with TLC Book Tours.
This entry was posted in Book Reviews, Edelweiss, Legal thrillers, Suspense, TLC Book Tours and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to “Wilde Lake” by Laura Lippman – Book Review

  1. This book is set about 20 minutes from where I lived, and I really enjoyed reading it!

    Thanks for being a part of the tour.


  2. skyecaitlin says:

    Interesting; I like the idea of different time frames; the setting ( manufactured) is not far from me, and then the revelation at the end pulls me towards this book.


  3. carhicks says:

    This one is on my TBR, hopefully get to it soon. Sounds like a winner.


  4. Renee says:

    I think I’ve read one previous Laura Lippman book a long time ago. This storyline sounds really good, I’ll be taking a closer look at it. I’m always in the mood for a character driven novel:)


  5. Emma says:

    I like that this is a bit of a slow build. One for the list.


  6. Diana says:

    I have had this book on my TBR for a while now but your review has made me want to read it really soon. It seems like there are a couple of different stories within the main story line but I am glad to see that you mention that they are interwoven. I hope to read this soon. Great review!


    • Fictionophile says:

      Hope you enjoy it Diana. It is a slow burn of a novel, but the writing and the last few chapters make it a satisfying read.


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