The Most Dangerous Thing

I recently finished “The Most Dangerous Thing” by Laura Lippman and can’t stop thinking about it. Lippman, an accomplished journalist and mystery novelist, also writes “stand alone” novels. These novels are often set in and around Baltimore; this novel is set in the suburb of Dickeyville, where Lippman herself grew up.

The story alternates between the present day and the late 70s. Following five friends through their youth and adolescence, the books shows the perils of growing up. Some of these perils are from jealous friends, boys, pushing oneself physically, and some come from the outside world. Chief amongst these things are a mysterious cabin in the woods that the five friends find one day. As the story unfolds, this cabin and the many things that happen there, come to haunt the adult versions of the five friends.

It is almost impossible to describe this book without giving something away, so let me focus on the quality of the writing. Lippman’s prose is rich and lush; you feel totally immersed in the book and the environment. From the very beginning of the book, readers are aware that there is something very very bad being hidden by the characters. What makes it work so well is that not only is this secret hidden from the reader, but the characters are holding other, even more complicated secrets from each other. As each secret comes out, the story gets richer, deeper, and more intriguing. In many ways, “The Most Dangerous Thing” is a thriller. It is highly recommended for anyone interested in stories of childhood innocence lost, stories about growing up, or thrillers where not even the characters are sure of the true nature of the mystery.


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