17 March 2010

To the Power of Three

by Laura Lippman

This is the second book of Lippman’s that I’ve read, and I’m thinking it may be the last. My gripe about this one is the same as last time. The book is excellent and kept me riveted right up until the end, and then, the ending sucked. Everything was tied up in a neat, pretty little package with a bow, by a single character who all of a sudden decided that she just had to tell the truth. As mystery novels go, this is, in my opinion, the worst ending possible. And let me tell you, it NEVER happens that way in real life. The killer (or the witness, or whoever) does not get a sudden attack of conscience and run to the cops to reveal “what really happened.”

Plot: Three teenage girls, who have been best friends since 3rd grade, are the center of a high-school shooting. One of them is implicated as the shooter while the other two are the supposed victims. All three are bright, popular, and have promising futures, so no one can grasp the motive behind the shooting. The action centers on the small town’s reaction to the shooting, the investigation by the detectives, and the families’ attempts to ferret out what really happened.

Most mystery novels end with a bang. Either the literal bang of a gun, or some really exciting, shocking surprise that the reader might have been piecing together but couldn’t quite get a handle on. Lippman, though, writes compelling, moving, perfectly paced novels that end with a dull thud. In the case of this novel, it’s also a little far-reaching and implausible, too. Yuck. I’d rather read a book that’s awful from the beginning (Lord Jim, anyone?) than enjoy one so thoroughly only to be this disappointed upon finishing.

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