After I’m Gone by Laura Lippman is an evocative, suspenseful and sometimes heartbreaking novel about the lives of five women left behind by the charming felon Felix Brewer and the secrets revealed when his mistress is found dead ten years later. Roberto “Sandy” Sanchez, the ex-cop who re-opens the Brewer case, attempts to uncover all of the mysteries surrounding Julie’s death, Felix’s disappearance and the troubled lives of Felix’s wife and their three girls.
I experienced some trepidation when venturing into the arena of the murder/mystery genre. While I can appreciate the genre in its ability to enticingly string you along with many different perspectives, placing the reader in medias res of many character’s lives—it is simply not something I am particularly fond of, mostly because of the slow, drawn-out pacing.
Despite this prejudice, I actually found this novel to be extremely interesting and captivating, primarily because Lippman is an excellent character writer. After I’m Gone depicts some of the most complicated characters I have ever read; most of them are not very likeable, yet Lippman makes them so strikingly insightful at times. As the Baltimore Sun accurately articulates, “Lippman has an almost uncanny ability to get into the heads of her characters—the good guys and the not-so-good guys—and to bring them vividly alive.”
The character of worn-down old ex-cop, Sandy Sanchez, became one of my favourite narrative voices for that very reason. Through his bitter, grief-stricken storyline, I read some poignant, thought-provoking truths. I would never expect to appreciate being put in the head of a middle aged, paunchy ex-cop that finds socializing distasteful, but Lippman makes him fascinating.
Not my all-time favourite genre, but very enjoyable. Plus, my lack of foresight when dealing with any suspenseful form of entertainment allowed me to be surprised and excited by the ending!