Published: May 3, 2016
Luisa “Lu” Brant is the newly elected—and first female—state’s attorney of Howard County, Maryland, a job in which her widower father famously served. Fiercely intelligent and ambitious, she sees an opportunity to make her name by trying a mentally disturbed drifter accused of beating a woman to death in her home. It’s not the kind of case that makes headlines, but peaceful Howard county doesn’t see many homicides.
As Lu prepares for the trial, the case dredges up painful memories, reminding her small but tight-knit family of the night when her brother, AJ, saved his best friend at the cost of another man’s life. Only eighteen, AJ was cleared by a grand jury. Now, Lu wonders if the events of 1980 happened as she remembers them. What details might have been withheld from her when she was a child?
The more she learns about the case, the more questions arise. What does it mean to be a man or woman of one’s times? Why do we ask our heroes of the past to conform to the present’s standards? Is that fair? Is it right? Propelled into the past, she discovers that the legal system, the bedrock of her entire life, does not have all the answers. Lu realizes that even if she could learn the whole truth, she probably wouldn’t want to.
“What begins as a tale of lost innocence in the summer of 1980 becomes, woven with alternating chapters set in the present, an unsettling study of the moral compromises people make to keep their lies hidden. As the events of her childhood insinuate themselves into her current life, Lu begins to question essential truths about her beginnings: Who is her father beneath his comforting words and mysterious behavior? Who was her mother before she died in childbirth? What really happened with her brother on that fateful graduation day? (Free to attend Yale, AJ got rich with the Lehman Brothers, left to take up with a yoga instructor, and now is an “Eat, Pray, Love”-type guru and MacArthur fellow.)
Lu, who moved into her father’s house with her two daughters following her husband’s death, is no angel herself. She regularly meets with one of AJ’s old friends for bruising motel room sex. As assertive and irreverent as she is (“Have you ever noticed only another competitive person will ever call you competitive?”), she didn’t get to become state’s attorney without making political — and personal — compromises.
Ultimately, “Wilde Lake” is not so much a crime novel that rises to the level of serious literature as serious literature that rises to the level of great crime fiction. ” taken from the Chicago Tribune.
This book was so much more than I had expected and I recommend it to anyone that likes a heart-breaking mystery.