Life Sentences by Laura Lippman

sentencesReviewed by Patricia Reid

When Cassandra Follows, best-selling author, decides to investigate a mystery involving a childhood friend she discovers that things are not always as they seem and that memories sometimes are not exactly as they really happened.

Cassandra hears a news story about a missing baby and the reporter links the story to a similar incident years ago in Baltimore, Cassandra’s hometown. A woman named Calliope Jenkins served seven years in jail for contempt of court. Calliope refused to answer questions as to the whereabouts of her son. Authorities assumed the child was dead but could not prove it and Calliope was not talking. Cassandra realizes that Calliope is one of the girls that she attended school with and decides that Calliope will be the subject of her next book.

When Cassandra returns to Baltimore and tries to investigate, she runs up against a dead end every place she turns. Her former friends either do not want to talk to her or are upset with her about references to them in her previous book. Calliope’s present location is either unknown or no one is willing to reveal it to Cassandra.

Cassandra starts her own investigation and eventually not only finds Calliope and the story behind the story but also finds out a few truths about her own life. Life Sentences is a complicated book that goes back and forth between the present and the past. Cassandra’s investigations lead her to understand the relationships with her mother, father and stepmother revealed in her memoirs were not actually the facts.

Life Sentences is an intriguing book that kept me reading. If you pick up Life Sentences to read and expect to find a traditional Laura Lippman novel, you will be very much surprised.

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