Saturday, March 21, 2009

Life Sentences by Laura Lippman

Cassandra Fallows has written two successful memoirs and is thinking of writing a book of fiction next. When she hears the name Calliope Jenkins on the news, she thinks it must be the same woman she knew as a girl. Memories start to wash over Cassandra. This is when she decides to do her next book on Callie, as she and three others in her group called Calliope. Calliope’s name was in the news because like a current case in New Orleans, she pled the Fifth more than twenty years ago, when she would not disclose the whereabouts of her son. Although, no body was ever found, nor would Callie say anything else, she spent seven years in jail.
Cassandra wants to talk to Callie and get her story, along with the stories of the other three girls they both knew. Cassandra tries contacting the prosecuting attorney and the detective in the case. Unfortunately, this takes a lot of digging because no one will reveal where Callie is and no one seems to want to talk about the case or even their youth. When she does talk to the three other women she knew as a girl, it seems their memories don’t jive with what Cassandra wrote in her memoirs . She starts to question her own memories and the motives of the people involved. Through persistence Cassandra starts to put the pieces of the puzzle in order.

Throughout the story there are some intriguing concurrent sub plots going on. Cassandra’s parents are divorced and he is remarried. Her father played a big part in Cassandra's memoirs but it turns out she based her memories on false information. Most of the main characters have their own life dramas going on which does make for interesting reading. I will say Lippman does a great job of fleshing out her characters, particularly the detective and the lawyer. Her location descriptions are also excellent.
This is not your typical mystery. I felt like I was reading background material for a good part of the book when it dawned on me, this IS the book. It’s more of a character study than a traditional mystery. Maybe I was expecting something different than this format or something more from this author. Not sure. Even though I have never read Lippman’s work before, I have read gushing reviews about her mysteries. There is a real twist to the ending that I didn’t see coming. The last twenty pages tie it all up rather neatly and most of the misconceptions and unknowns are revealed. Overall, I did like the book even though I felt that I was waiting for something more to actually happen. 3.5***
About the book:
Product Details
ISBN: 0061128899
ISBN-13: 9780061128899
Format: Hardcover, 344pp
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Pub. Date: March 2009
Author's web site is here.


  1. Boy, you got to that one fast. Your review really has me curious.

  2. Sounds very involved - glad you liked it overall. Nice review, Kaye.

  3. I have read, and liked, a number of her books before. I am a little on the shelf about reading this one from what I have read...we will see.

  4. Great review! (as always) I've been very curious about this one myself. It does sound interesting but I'm glad I read your review first. :)

  5. Excellent review!

    I gave you another award

  6. Wow.. nice review Kaye... It sounds pretty good.

  7. Interesting review. Never heard of this book, but don't think I particularly want to.

    I will say that the girl on the cover reminds me a little of Glinda the Good Witch from Wizard of Oz. Am I crazy? Maybe :)

    P.S. I gave you an award! Thanks for being cool :)

  8. She does look like the good witch. Just to make things interesting I've given you an award too!! It's here. :D

  9. I was sort of disappointed in the book, like I kept waiting for something to happen, and nuttin ' did...


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