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The Most Dangerous Thing

3.28  ·  Rating details ·  6,043 ratings  ·  830 reviews
“One of the best novelists around, period.”
Washington Post

“Lippman has enriched literature as a whole.
Chicago Sun-Times

One of the most acclaimed novelists in America today, Laura Lippman has greatly expanded the boundaries of mystery fiction and psychological suspense with her Tess Monaghan p.i. series and her New York Times bestselling standalone novels (What the Dead K
Hardcover, 344 pages
Published August 23rd 2011 by William Morrow (first published 2011)
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Baltimore Blues by Laura LippmanThe Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca SklootHomicide by David SimonDinner at the Homesick Restaurant by Anne TylerThe Amateur Marriage by Anne Tyler
175 books — 34 voters
Baltimore Blues by Laura LippmanJacob Have I Loved by Katherine PatersonCharm City by Laura LippmanThe Great Gilly Hopkins by Katherine PatersonThe Sugar House by Laura Lippman
Books set in Maryland
166 books — 26 voters

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Community Reviews

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3.28  · 
Rating details
 ·  6,043 ratings  ·  830 reviews

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Charlotte May
“And this is a story about things we wished had gone differently. Aren’t all stories.”

This is one of those books that makes you feel a bit gross, it shows the grimmest parts of human nature, and is a far from comfortable read.

We follow 5 children aged between 9 and 14. Sean, Tim, Gwen, Mickey and Go Go. While exploring the woods near to their house they come across a cabin, and the strange man who lives there. One night there is a terrible hurricane, and what happens in the woods that night c
Will Byrnes
Jun 03, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Something happened in the woods in 1979. A man died, covered in blood, mud, and a litter of secrets. Whodunit? And why?

In late 1970s Baltimore five children join forces, the three Halloran boys and two girls, Mickey and Gwen. They are intimately connected to the death. Decades later an inebriated Gordon Halloran smashes his car into a concrete barrier and his demise summons the remaining four friends back together to face the past.

Laura Lippman has written a can’t-put-it-down page turner as sh
Sep 09, 2011 rated it did not like it
Shelves: reviewed
This is a story of five friends who grew up in the same neighborhood and what happened one summer night that changed not only their friendship but also their lives. It is the death of one of the five that brings them all back together and it is once they all meet that each of them starts to wonder how different their lives would have been if that one event had not taken place years ago.

Reading the synopsis I thought the book looked interesting, but as I read on I found myself quickly skimming t
Apr 08, 2012 rated it it was ok
I saw the author on Craig Ferguson the other night, and she seemed smart and reasonable. She also said that "the most dangerous thing" is finally revealed in the last sentence of the book. That sounded like careful planning to me, so I thought I'd give it a try. She told the truth--it IS revealed in the last sentence. Trouble is, nobody, including the reader, was asking the question. I counted at least 13 major characters in this book, each major enough to get at least one chapter told from his/ ...more
Aug 10, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I recently listened to I'd Know You Anywhere and really liked Lippman's style. I was thrilled to have won this through FirstReads. I just finished reading it and realized that it's not even due to be released for another four days.

I tend to take a book with me to work to read at lunchtime. This is one that I had to leave at home because I knew that I wouldn't get any work done if I took it with me. The past and present story lines mesh together so well and nothing is as it seems.

I really like so
Sara Strand
Jul 02, 2012 rated it did not like it
You know I'm never shy when I review a book and those I love I tell everyone and their cousins about it because I feel like authors are undervalued. More people should be absorbed in books and the value of a good book in under appreciated. Unfortunately, that's not the case so much here.

What makes this hard is that technically speaking, Laura Lippman is a great writer. She isn't addicted to adjectives, her writing flows and it's easy to read. The problem with this book is that after every singl
Kaethe Douglas
December 9, 2012

This is going to make me sound like a horrible person, but I might as well put it up front: I didn't enjoy this as much as some other Lippman books I've read recently, because the people aren't nearly so awful. In her usual way she's exploring how events in the past are never hidden, how they rise up again in the present, and how secrets can wreck lives. But none of these characters is irredeemable, everyone is doing the best they can with the information they have at the time, a
Jo Anne B
Aug 23, 2011 rated it really liked it
Secrets of what happened in the woods the night of a hurricane in 1979 come back to haunt four adults when they reunite after all these years for the death of one of their friends. Needless to say, this was a very sad, dark, depressing, mystery. 

The author told the story from the perspectives of many characters in the first narrative switching between past and present. Doing so actually gave a lot of insight into nature of each person and made for a rich, deeper story. You learn so much about th
Book Him Danno
Getting up from your mistakes and trying to live well today; to try again.

I struggled with this book; not because it was bad, but rather it is a break in style from what I expect from Laura Lippman. I can genuinely claim Lippman is in my top 5 favourite authors, and I anxiously await each new release. The Most Dangerous Thing has her taking risk with her voice and unfortunately that collided with my preconceived notions. I believe this is an acquired taste and could prove to be one of her best
Jan 25, 2012 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: People who think child molestation is no big deal, especially if it's a woman who is the molester
Shelves: fiction
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 11, 2012 rated it it was ok
I did not like this book anywhere near as much as I’ve liked Lippman’s other novels. She states that this is the most personal book she’s written, setting it in the area she grew up in, and I think the plot suffers for it.

The story follows the adult versions of childhood friends Gwen, McKey (nee Mickey), Tim, and Sean, awkwardly brought together after the death of the boys’ younger brother, Gordon. They are all keeping a terrible secret, which is supposed to be revealed to us in drips and drabs
Jul 15, 2011 rated it really liked it
Laura Lippman admits that this is the most biographical novel she's written, setting it in what is essentially her childhood neighborhood. But that's where the similarity stops--the only secrets she's keeping is how she comes up with such riveting fiction time and time again.

Her characters in "The Most Dangerous Thing", however, have been keeping a secret for many, many years. Something happened to the little neighborhood collection of five once inseparable children that that formed them into th
Dec 18, 2013 rated it it was ok
I could not finish this. I didn't like anyone and didn't care what happened to them or in the story. This was my first Laura Lippman and possibly my last.
Prakash Loungani
Apr 10, 2012 rated it did not like it
Couldn't finish it. Author took too long for me to get to the point ... (Goodreads should have a "Date I gave up on this book" instead of just a "Date I finished this book")
Mary Gramlich
Sep 15, 2011 rated it it was amazing
08/11 - HarperCollins Publishers - Hardcover, 352 pages

Could you take a life altering secret to your grave?

It was a different time growing up in the 70’s and 80’s you had the freedom to roam unsupervised and be independent in a way that will never happen again. A group of children met one summer with different backgrounds, home environments, and sexes never giving any of that a thought, only worrying about the next great adventure and challenge the parent
Jun 07, 2014 rated it did not like it
I at least SOMEWHAT enjoyed I'd Know You Anywhere, and I've had a few other Lippman books on my list for a couple of years now, so I thought I'd check out another one. I think I'm giving up. For mystery-thrillers, there's just very little of both (in either of her books I've read). I should have put this one down the moment it started to irk me (about 2-3 chapters in). The biggest issue I had with the book at first was the constantly changing storytelling mode. Changing from "we" to "they" - it ...more
Sep 30, 2012 rated it did not like it
This book. Oh man. Funny story. I had actually checked this book out of the library a few months ago. It was one of many in a teetering stack that I thought seemed interesting enough. I had read a few of Laura Lippman's books before and they'd held my attention. I liked them well enough. For some reason when it came time to read this one, I didn't want to and returned it without a second thought. And last week, I picked it up again and checked it out because, well, I couldn't find anything else ...more
Aug 10, 2011 rated it really liked it
I always find semi-biographical novels fascinating. There's something special that happens when a writer taps a place that she knows that intimately. Usually you avoid those places, for fear of using some detail or character that a friend or family member will point to and say "There! That's me! How could she?" In that way, this is a brave book. The characters are all likable to a point, but also distressingly human. They fail, they make human choices, they acknowledge their mistakes and frailti ...more
Aug 30, 2011 rated it really liked it
I am always thrilled when a new Laura Lippman comes out-it usually means a free trip back to Baltimore and often it's to the Baltimore of my childhood/young adulthood. The Most Dangerous Thing is no exception in that regard but it is not quite what I've come to expect from Ms Lippman. It is well written and certainly evokes the freedom, almost wildness, of childhood in the late 70s. But while the writing is in many ways excellent, I did have some difficulties. The transitions from present to pas ...more
Aug 14, 2011 rated it did not like it
The Most Dangerous Thing is a book about the lives of five friends and how the events of one summer affected the rest of their lives. Mickey, Gwen, Tim, Sean and “Go-Go” live in the same neighborhood and are all friends in the mid-1970s, but their friendship changes drastically one night. Twenty years later, the death of “Go-Go” brings everyone back together again and they all find themselves asking if their lives would have been more fulfilling if they had made different decisions the night of ...more
Aug 10, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: giveaways
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The book is very well written and explores childhood friendships and especially childhood secrets.

The story goes back and forth from the late 70's to the present and the chapters are frequently narrated by a different character. Laura Lippman does a terrific job of writing the story from the viewpoint of each character and the storyline is easy to follow. There is even a cameo by Tess Monaghan!

A quick read with some depth!
Jasmin Mohd-zain
Jan 21, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019-reads
I have not read Ms Lippman before but since she has an impressive catalogue, i thought ok let's read her work.

Err...... maybe i picked the wrong one to start with. I was upset at 30% of the way through and kept asking what is the point of this "Whodunnit?" ..and why do I have to keep up with so many POVs?

Lippman writes well. Some of her sentences are beautiful string of pearls. But this plot is way to convoluted the way it was being told. Readers will lose interest somewhere in the quagmire of f
Sep 22, 2011 rated it really liked it
I generally avoid authors whose m.o. involves writing multiple books centered around one main character. Our local library seems to love Laura Lippman, who I remembered focuses her attention on the detective Tess Monaghan in most of her novels. This was sitting forlornly in the "New Releases" bin...saw in the jacket blurb that this was a "stand-alone" novel (meaning, I guess, no Tess Monaghan) so I thought I'd give it a try.

I'm glad I did; "The Most Dangerous Thing", while having not exactly th
Mar 08, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio, mystery
This audio version of the book," The Most Dangerous Thing", was written by Laura Lippman and read by Linda Emond.

This story is told in the present with flashbacks to the 1970's and 80's. The story begins in the present with Gordon ('Go Go') Halloran, a forty year old very troubled, recovering alcoholic who has just recently 'fallen off the wagon'. Instead of attending his usual AA meeting, he made his way to a bar; after having a few drinks, he got into his car and started driving at a high rate
I have such mixed feelings about this novel. Something Bad happened back in the late 70s to a group kids, 3 brothers, 2 neighboring girls, friends for a year or so, who live in a Baltimore suburb during a time when kids still had the freedom to roam unsupervised for most of the day. The story unspools from differing points of view, switching back and forth between the past and present, with lots of introspection and weighing of choices, motives and consequences by all involved, including the par ...more
Oct 21, 2011 rated it liked it
WHAT is this book about?

A group of childhood friends are reunited when one of them dies in a drunk driving accident. A secret from their past may have been a factor in their friend's death, and they confront their shared past for the first time since losing touch years ago. Told from the point of view of the children and their parents, the book dips in and out of the past (circa 1977-1978) and the present, where the grown-up versions of the kids are struggling with problems and issues whose seed
Mar 06, 2012 rated it did not like it
In the late 1970s, five childhood friends (Gwen, Mickey, Sean, Tim and Go Go)spend their free time exploring the woods outside their Baltimore neighbourhood. Then a tragedy occurs which changes their lives and those of their parents. It is a tragedy which they never discuss until Go Go's death (accident or suicide?) brings them together. Gradually the truth of what really happened in the woods is revealed.

The viewpoints of the friends are given, as are those of the parents. Everyone's motivatio
Kelly Hager
Aug 21, 2011 rated it it was amazing
You know how in Stand By Me (and the story it's based on, The Body), the narrator says something about how we never have friends as good as the friends we have in childhood?* In this novel, that's a really good thing.

Gwen, Mickey, Tim, Sean and Gordon ("Go-Go") are friends. They explore this giant forest that's behind Gwen's house (this is in the long-ago time when kids were allowed to do things without parental supervision) most of the summer and one day, they find a man who lives in a ramshack
Oct 02, 2011 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sep 12, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: suspense
It was Victor Hugo who said no one keeps a secret so well as a child. That may be, but in this stunning new stand-alone novel Laura Lippman explores the psychological cost of such concealment.

The death of a childhood friend reunites four people and rips open a Pandora’s box, unleashing disturbing questions about an incident from their past.

Lippman deftly takes the reader back and forth in time, detailing how the participants met in the 1970s as children, the incident that separated them and the
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Laura Lippman is a New York Times bestselling novelist who has won more than twenty awards for her fiction, including the Edgar Award—and been nominated for thirty more. Since her debut in 1997, she has published twenty-one novels, a novella, a children’s book, and a collection of short stories. Her books have been translated into over twenty languages. LitHub named her one of the “essential” fema ...more
“Whatever you want, at any moment, someone else is getting it. Whatever you have, someone else is longing for.” 31 likes
“Her dilemma—the eternal human dilemma—is that she wants a chance to revisit her choices with full knowledge of the future.” 4 likes
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