14 December 2011

Just finished reading...

The Most Dangerous Thing by Laura Lippman.*

Brothers Tim, Sean and Gordon Halloran played ball in a field near Gwen Robison's house on the outskirts of Baltimore. When Gwen and her friend Mickey see them, Mickey tells them they can't play there unless they let the girls join in. Soon, the five of them are exploring the nearby woods, something that would not be allowed today.

Fast-forward to the present-day. Gordon, the youngest of the five, stumbles out of a bar. Certain that he's not drunk, he gets in the car and heads home. Then he makes a detour to a dead-end stretch of highway where they used to drag race, and drives into the barrier wall at the end.

The remaining four friends, who haven't been close since their early teens, meet for the first time in years at Gordon's funeral. Someone wonders why they stopped hanging around together, and that's when the memories begin to resurface.

Laura Lippman has created another fascinating tale of human nature and its foibles. The narrative alternates between the group's childhood in the late 1970s and the present-day (which requires that the reader pay attention to the chapter headings). As is common in Lippman's novels, the city of Baltimore is almost a character itself.

Lippman uses an unusual technique when chronicling the group's youthful adventures. The narrative is written in first-person plural, referring to the five as "we", but never in the first-person singular. It does provide a feeling of immediacy to events, but unfortunately pulled this reviewer abruptly out of the story. Still, it's a gripping story, and difficult to put down once begun.

*FTC Full Disclosure: This was a library book.

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