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What the Dead Know
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What the Dead Know

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3.53 of 5 stars 3.53  ·  rating details  ·  11,857 ratings  ·  1,648 reviews
Thirty years ago two sisters disappeared from a shopping mall. Their bodies were never found and those familiar with the case have always been tortured by these questions: How do you kidnap two girls? Who—or what—could have lured the two sisters away from a busy mall on a Saturday afternoon without leaving behind a single clue or witness?

Now a clearly disoriented woman inv
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ebook, 400 pages
Published October 13th 2009 by William Morrow (first published January 1st 2007)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Susan
A middle-aged woman is involved in a hit-and-run accident. Two teenage girls are abducted from a shopping mall, never to be heard from again. These are the two major events that propel Laura Lippman's What the Dead Know, a disturbing novel of buried secrets and life's tragic surprises.

After fleeing a car accident, a middle-aged woman with no ID is questioned by both the police and hospital administration. Refusing to reveal her identity (and proof of health insurance), she instead hints that she
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Shelley
I got a copy of this book at the airport in Chicago when my flight was delayed due to a snowstorm. I thought it looked interesting and would be an easy read. It wasn't interesting, it was tiresome and tedious, with a plot that was about as deep as a puddle and as hard hitting as a cocoa puff. To say the characters were one dimensional, is to give them at least three forths of a dimension. To say the dialog was flat and juvenile insults juveniles everywhere. And the ending of this little mystery ...more
Robert
I hated Heather Bethany. And not just a little bit either. Even though she had her reasons for her half-truths and lies, reasons that become apparent later, I still found it hard to forgive her. Since much of WHAT THE DEAD KNOW revolves around her, this proved a slightly difficult obstacle for me to overcome. Yet, Laura Lippman proved up to the challenge with an engrossing story that spanned decades and bounced back and forth in time like a shooting star set on repeat.

Despite the back and forth,
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Yvette
Basically two sisters disappear after a trip to the mall. Their bodies were never found and all leads come to a dead end. After 30 years a lady shows up claiming to be one of the sisters. We are taken through a series of memories from different characters’ perspectives. At the end we are suppose to be surprise by the truth, unfortunately for me, I guessed early on. Although the story had an intriguing level to it I wasn't completely captivated. I can’t put my fingered on it, but something was am ...more
Jane Stewart
3 ½ stars. Good story telling. Kept my interest. Absorbing mystery.

It’s a very unusual story - when you learn everything at the end.

BUT, when it was over I felt like I had just been told a sad story. Good people are hurt. Bad people get away with things. It’s semi happy for a few at the end, but not really. Overall I felt depressed and sad. Here it is the next day, and I’m still grieving for someone. So, since I read for entertainment, and this leaves me down, I’m rounding down to 3 stars.

I was
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Clif Hostetler
I was into this book a little ways before I remembered that I had heard this interview with the author on NPR radio. The idea for this book is based on [inspired by] an actual event that occurred in a Washington, D.C. suburb in 1975 when two teenaged sisters disappeared from a mall without leaving a trace or clue of what happened to them. The mystery of what happened to those two girls has never been solved.

In this novel the author provides a scenario of what might happen if one of those missin
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Britney
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Zelda
Aug 06, 2007 Zelda rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: mystery fans
This was a really good book that totally taps into the fears in the early 70s of kids being kidnapped. When a women is caught after leaving the scene of an accident, she claims to be one of two sisters who were kidnapped from a local mall 20+ years earlier. The book bounces around those 20+ years from several different perspectives while describing what happened to the girls and those that were left behind. Throughly enjoyable, and while I figured part of the ending out before I got there, it wa ...more
Kirsti
Apr 13, 2008 Kirsti rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Kirsti by: Janet
I tried an earlier Laura Lippman and didn't care for it, but the plot of this one sounded terrific. Two girls vanish from a shopping mall; years later, a woman in a hit-and-run accident blurts out that she is one of the girls. Parts of what she says are lies, but which parts? I'm glad I gave it a shot--I enjoyed the different points of view as the book followed different characters.
Tina
Story line had potential but the writers style was choppy (and not in the Hemmingway manner). Transitioning between characters and time periods weren't handled well and made it hard to stay focused on the book.
Carol Hunter
Mysteries are one of my favorite genres. I will now add Laura Lippman to my list of favorite mystery writers. Her outstanding plot and character development captured me from the beginning of this book.
Thirty years ago 2 sisters disappeared from a mall and their bodies have never been found. We watch the disintegration of their seemingly perfect family and are drawn in by the confused, or is it cunning, young woman who is involved in a hit-and-run accident and claims to be one of the famous lost
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Kelly
More on the twisty thriller kick. This one was AWESOME; I wish more of them were like this. Lippman has the same knack as Jennifer McMahon for all those little details from your childhood that you've forgotten (I wanted the nurse kit more than the doctor kit, just like Sunny, because it had a girl on it and the other had a boy, and this was taken as a troubling lack of ambition by my father). Lots of twists; I guessed close to the big one but didn't quite hit it. Big meaty book too. Definitely w ...more
Deb
Laura Lippman writes a mystery series described as "chick lit with guns," and that is about as far from my genre of choice as you can get. But facing a long drive and a paucity of choices, I picked up this audiobook - a standalone, not part of the series - and I really enjoyed it. So shame on snobby me.

The heart of the story is a question of identity. At the start of the novel, a woman has a traffic accident and tells the police that she is one of the Bethany Girls, two sisters who disappeared f
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jo
Aug 18, 2008 jo rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to jo by: linda
this woman knows how to write. i'm exactly one chapter in, and i already feel relieved. thank god in heaven for good writers who know how to soothe our pain.

****

i finished it and am impressed by this novel, especially a) the consistently excellent writing, b) the representation of minor characters and c) the portrayal of the mind of an adult with a history of horrendous childhood trauma. what left me a little bit cold was the conclusion.

[MAJOR SPOILER]

for one, it's pretty clearly announced befo
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Christina
I'd picked this up from reading the jacket information. Sounded like a very intriguing work about missing children. The basic premise is, a woman in a car accident claims to be one of the Bethany sisters, two girls who were abducted 25 years earlier and presumed dead. But is she, or is she pulling a scam? And if she is, what happened?

Unfortunately, this turned into a detective novel. It had a plot easily followed (though the woman's character was oddly written, to say the least). But certain asp
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ayrdaomei
Jan 13, 2008 ayrdaomei added it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of verbose, well-populated mysteries
Recommended to ayrdaomei by: The New York Times, Publishers Weekly
Laura Lippman used to write for The Baltimore Sun, so she's been an author I've thought about checking out for awhile. When I saw this title on a couple of "Best/Favorites Of 2007" lists, I figured this was the one to try.

What The Dead Know has a great title and an intriguing premise, but unfortunately, the story as written never clicked for me. I called it quits 97 pages in. It was neat to read about Baltimore County as it was 20 or so years ago, but I never connected with any of the character
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Meredith
A powerful book that has to read/listened to in chunks, then set down. Similar to my description of The Most Dangerous Thing, the story is set up like an artichoke that is slowly peeled back before we get to the heart. We have the perspective various people across various time frames. Each scene and perspective written with great intentionality.


There's only one element that kept me from rating it higher. (view spoiler)
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Dan

Two girls are kidnapped from a mall one afternoon and decades later a woman stunned by a car accident claims to be one of the missing girls, but she is strangely reluctant to tell her story.

This book is of the are they an impostor subgenre of mysteries; one I'll admit to not being fond of. At the end all the reader can expect to learn is which of two possibilities is the case. With maybe an interesting back story of how things came to this pass. So the author has to keep throwing sand in the rea
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Stina
Book #25 for 2013

Laura Lippman never fails to impress me. Here she demonstrates mastery of the multiple-POV narrative as she weaves themes of self-identity, survival mechanisms, and forgiveness and redemption into a complex story of a prodigal daughter. This is the sort of book I feel I should read again just to see how she pulls off such a feat of legerdemain.

For starters, there is the central question of the story: Is this middle-aged accident victim really who she claims to be? Or is she spin
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Josh
One half of the daughters of a missing persons case dating back to 1975 makes a remarkable return via the unlikeliest of circumstances. Heather Bethany is involved in a hit and run and is soon the subject of much interrogation as police, doctors, social workers, and her lawyer try to pry the truth surrounding her disappearance many years ago. Complicating matters is that Heather isn’t forthcoming even with her own identity for fear of having her seemingly quiet existence thrown into the media sp ...more
Bryan
Compelling, literature, powerful. Lippman can get inside the skin of nearly any character. Really enjoyed this.

Here's the thing, though: I sensed the big reveal that was coming probably 50 pages before it came--but that did nothing to hurt my enjoyment of the book. By then, Lippman had me so wrapped up in the characters and their various motivations that I just wanted to keep reading.

That should be no surprise, really. When we go to see a Batman movie, we know Batman is going to prevail over the
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Debra Anne
Thirty years after two sisters disappeared, a woman surfaces, claiming to be one of the sisters. Very well-crafted, character-driven story with satisfying twists and turns. The author plays fair, giving the reader enough information that the final twist might be foreseen, and then hides it nicely so it isn't obvious.
I found the younger sister especially real, with her irritating little quirks that she directs gleefully to the aggravation of the older sister. The dynamics between the two sisters
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A.
Darker and more complex than Lippman's Tess Monaghan mysteries, which I enjoyed about it -- I could really see Lippman stretching her mystery muscles in this one. Excellent plot, fantastic twist ending that someone more observant might have picked up earlier than I did, and just really compelling and enjoyable.
Evelyn
Very entertaining mystery with some great twists.
Rick Urban
A fascinating "who-done-what" mystery, in which a woman comes forward to authorities claiming to be one of two sisters who disappeared thirty years before. The attempt of police to verify her claim is juxtaposed with flashbacks to the disappearance and everything that bridges that event to the present. The writing is clean and there is a strong emphasis on character, so that when the final mystery is unraveled, the behavior of each of the characters seems completely believable. I'm not one to al ...more
Marie-Jo Fortis
Nov 21, 2013 Marie-Jo Fortis rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Marie-Jo by: goodreads readers
Two girls disappear in 1975 and, as expected, their parents never recover from the atrocious experience. One survives, however. Doesn’t live, but survives and does it rather well. Now, Laura Lippman builds a puzzle around events, time, and psychology. It is an ambitious project, often successful, frequently hanging on to dear life. Going back and forth between mom and dad, daughters Sunny and Heather, the cops, the investigation, the suspicions, the love affair that happened, the love affair th ...more
April
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this! I've read a couple of Lippman's novels in the Tess Monaghan detective series, but this is the first of her stand-alone novels that I've read.

The focus of the story is the disappearance of two teenage girls from a Baltimore mall in 1975 and the aftermath of that event for the girls' parents. Thirty years later, a disoriented woman, having been involved in a traffic accident, tells police she is one of the missing girls. The story evolves from there as police tra
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June Ahern
Intriguing beginning... "What the Dead Know" by Laura Lipman is a most interesting story inspired by a true life mystery of the disappearance of two sister in 1975 that were never heard of again. It is a sad story because it’s certainly a parent's worse nightmare. Lipman’s fictional account is about an ordinary family living in Baltimore (and she gives a vivid picture of that area) in the 1970’s. One weekend 15 yr-old Sunny and her 11 yr-year-old Heather her sister go to mall and vanish, leaving ...more
Margaret
Sep 15, 2008 Margaret rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Baltimorons, mystery lovers
I listened to the unabridged recording by Linda Emond - wow! Frankly, a good reader can elevate a really good book (a 4-star) to a fabulous book (a 5-star), and Ms. Emond is a really good reader. This is a terrific mystery - I didn't see the ending coming (but admit I'm not always the swiftest at figuring out endings ahead of time, and why would one want to be?) - and the reading is fabulous. This one definitely kept me driving around the block several more times than was necessary, and then wal ...more
Kathleen Hagen
What the dead know, by Laura Lippman. A.
Downloaded from audible.com

Sunny was just entering her teens while her younger sister, Heather, was just enough younger to spy on her, read her journal and in other ways annoy her. One Saturday, Heather tattled to their father that Sunny was planning to go to the mall. Their father said Sunny could only go if she took Heather with her. The two girls went to the mall and were never seen again. No bodies were ever found. Then, 30 years later, a disoriented w
...more
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Laura Lippman was a reporter for twenty years, including twelve years at The (Baltimore) Sun. She began writing novels while working fulltime 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. She also has been nominated for othe ...more
More about Laura Lippman...
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