After I’m Gone - Laura LippmanLaura Lippman’s eagerly anticipated latest is After I’m Gone: a tale of murder, deception and family secrets which skips backwards and forwards through time to piece together a mystery hidden in a dark past.

1976: wealthy businessman Felix Brewer disappears in order to avoid a prison sentence, leaving his wife, three daughters and mistress to fend for themselves. The family is convinced that it’s Julie (the mistress) who has made off with their money.  When Julie herself disappears ten years later, everyone assumes she has joined Felix in hiding. That is until her body is discovered, but her murder goes unsolved.

Cut to the present day: Sandy Sanchez, widower, failed restaurateur and retired detective, is man with a past of his own. Working privately, he picks up this very cold case and starts digging through the memories of everyone who may have played a part in the story.

Laura Lippman is very cool in my book. Not only is she a top thriller writer, multiple award winner, former ace reporter at the Baltimore Sun and a school librarian’s daughter (and still donates her speaking fees to her local library service): her husband is David Simon, creator of The Wire and Treme.

This is her eighth standalone novel, but Laura’s perhaps best known for her best-selling series featuring Tess Monaghan, Baltimore journalist turned private investigator. Tess is one of the more human heroines in the genre – she gets things wrong, but she’s brave, determined and funny, making her all the more likeable.

As you might expect, After I’m Gone is definitely on the literary side of the thriller genre. It’s a well-plotted, well-structured character study to be savoured, rather than devoured.