Note, the format of my Short and Sweet reviews differs in that they simply comprise the book blurb and a short response (hence, the short and sweet). Sometimes I have too many books to do a full-length review!
I haven’t read any of Laura Lippman’s crime novels before, even though she has a backlist of nearly 20 novels. The blurb sounded intriguing, and the fact that it was inspired by the real-life disappearance of a wanted man who left behind a wife, three daughters and a mistress, intrigued me even more. Here’s the blurb:
When Felix Brewer meets nineteen-year-old Bernadette ‘Bambi’ Gottschalk at a Valentine’s Dance in 1959, he charms her with wild promises, some of which he actually keeps. Thanks to his lucrative if not always legal businesses, she and their three little girls live in luxury. But on the Fourth of July, 1976, Bambi’s world implodes when Felix, newly convicted and facing prison, mysteriously vanishes. Though Bambi has no idea where her husband – or his money – might be, she suspects one woman does: his devoted young mistress, Julie. When Julie herself disappears ten years to the day that Felix went on the lam, everyone assumes she’s left to join her old lover – until her remains are found in a secluded wooded park. Now, twenty-six years after Julie went missing, Roberto ‘Sandy’ Sanchez, a retired Baltimore detective working cold cases for some extra cash, is investigating her murder. What he discovers is a tangled web of bitterness, jealousy, resentment and greed stretching over the three decades and three generations that connect these five very different women. And at the center of every woman’s story is the man who, though long gone, has never been forgotten: the enigmatic Felix Brewer.
A story of secrets and lies, After I’m Gone is slow-building and enigmatic. Unlike many crime novels, it’s not based on action, rather it’s a steady unfolding of secrets by a determined cold-case investigator, with the characters’ personalities and motivations unfolding just as slowly. Subtle and complex, the narrative moves between past and present, deftly constructing a mystery that leaves readers wondering who killed Julie … and what happened to Felix.
Available from good bookstores and Allen & Unwin (Faber Fiction RRP $29.99). My copy was courtesy of Allen & Unwin.