What the Dead Know by Laura Lippman review

In 1975, Sunny and Heather Bethany disappeared from a shopping mall without a trace. More than 30 years later, a woman with no identification flees the scene of a car accident. When she is found and questioned by police she claims to be the younger sister, Heather, but then refuses to speak any further about her disappearance or where she has been all those years. As Detective Kevin Infante chases the few leads available to him, social worker Kay Sullivan finds herself crossing professional lines in her attempts to help the mystery woman. Neither can decide if she is a victim or a criminal.

This haunting story is presented from many viewpoints and moves back and forth from the present to the day of the disappearance to several other points in the past as the narrative follows the girls, their grieving parents, and those trying to decipher the truth. The mystery delves deeply into its characters while maintaining a page-turning pace. As I read I found myself thinking “just one more chapter” and when I wasn’t reading my thoughts kept turning to the story and whether or not I could trust the claims of the would-be Heather. The untrustworthy characters and elements of surprise are reminiscent of Before I Go to Sleep by S.J. Watson, and the exploration of the aftermath of a disappearance is a similar theme in Visitation Street by Ivy Pochoda.