This was the first book I read for the RIP V Challenge. Because I don’t want to get too far behind in writing these reviews, I decided to review all my RIP books by answering the the 5Ws―Who, What, When, Where, Why. I’ll also include a Scare-O-Meter.
Scare-O-Meter Rating: 2 screams out of 10 …. or as a scary as the Burger King from the commercials. He is really more creepy and disturbing than scary, I think.
WHAT is this book about?
In 1975, two sisters―15-year-old Sunny Bethany and 11-year-old Heather Bethany―disappear at a local Baltimore shopping mall. Thirty years later, a woman flees the scene of a car accident near Baltimore and, when found, claims to be the youngest Bethany sister. Police aren’t quite sure what to make of her claim due to her reluctance to provide identification or health insurance information. Although she seems to know a lot of details about the case, all of the information she provides results in dead-ends that cannot be verified.
WHO do we meet?
- Miriam and Dave Bethany are Sunny and Heather’s parents. When the girls disappear, their already shaky marriage falls apart as their grief pulls them in two different directions. Dave―who has always dominated the family with his ideas on how things should be―cannot give up the hope that the girls will be found. He stays in the family home―waiting for answers that never come. Miriam, on the other hand, needs to move away in order to escape the tragedy. Her journey eventually takes her to Mexico, where she creates a quiet life for herself―a life where no one knows about her daughters’ disappearance.
- Kevin Infante is a twice-divorced womanizer and the detective assigned to determine if the woman from the car accident really is Heather Bethany. Frustrated by Heather’s stonewalling and leads that don’t answer any of his questions, Infante turns to the original investigator, Chet Willoughby (who now lives in an assisted living center) for assistance. For Willoughby, the Bethany case and its lack of closure haunts him. The opportunity to find out what happened is tantalizing but threatening at the same time―what had he missed during the first investigation?
- Kay is the social worker who tries to help Heather deal with her current legal problems―from helping her to find a lawyer to providing a place to stay. Struggling to stay uninvolved, Kay finds herself questioning her own motives and some of Heather’s actions.
WHEN and WHERE does the book take place?
The book jumps back and forth in time from the present day investigation to the 1975 disappearance and its aftermath. Lippman writes from multiple viewpoints―including Dave, Miriam, Kay, Heather, Infante and Willoughby. This mosaic-like approach is effective in providing the reader with bits and pieces of the mystery as we read along while also providing insights into the minds of the various characters. The bulk of the book takes place in and around Baltimore.
WHY should you read this book?
If you like mysteries that emphasize character development, this would probably be a good choice for you. It isn’t your standard “murder mystery” in that you aren’t really looking to figure out who the killer is. Rather, the mystery is whether the woman claiming to be Heather Bethany is who she says she is and what really happened to the sisters on the day of their disappearance. I thought Lippman did a good job providing bits and pieces of the mystery to keep you interested without giving too much away too soon. I also appreciated that she took the time to develop her characters―although I’m not sure I would want Kevin Infante being assigned to a case I was involved in! Based on this book, I would definitely read another Lippman book.
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