Book Review: After I'm Gone by: Laura Lippman

Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks

Publication Date: August 12, 2014

Origins:  From Publisher for Review

Synopsis: When Felix Brewer meets Bernadette “Bambi” Gottschalk at a Valentine’s Dance in 1959, he charms her with wild promises, some of which he actually keeps. Thanks to his lucrative—if not all legal—businesses, she and their three little girls live in luxury. But on the Fourth of July, 1976, Bambi’s comfortable world implodes when Felix, newly convicted and facing prison, mysteriously vanishes.

Though Bambi has no idea where her husband—or his money—might be, she suspects one woman does: his mistress, Julie. When Julie disappears ten years to the day that Felix went on the lam, everyone assumes she’s left to join her old lover—until her remains are eventually found.

Now, twenty-six years after Julie went missing, Roberto “Sandy” Sanchez, a retired Baltimore detective working cold cases for some extra cash, is investigating her murder. What he discovers is a tangled web stretching over three decades that connects five intriguing women. And at the center is the missing man Felix Brewer.

Somewhere between the secrets and lies connecting past and present, Sandy will find the truth. And when he does, no one will ever be the same.

Review: AFTER I’M GONE is the story of Felix Brewer, his family, his fortune, and his mistress. In 1976, Felix Brewer disappears after he is convicted but before he is sent to prison. Ten years to the day Felix’s mistress, Julie Saxony, disappears and is found dead. It is twenty-six years after Julie’s initial disappearance and retired detective, Sandy Sanchez, who investigates cold cases, has picked this case to look into further. From the beginning, he’s struck by so many inconsistencies and conflicting information in the case. Digging deep, he must untangle the web Felix wove around his friends, wife, daughters, and mistress to find the truth. AFTER I’M GONE is inspired by true events and is given a beautiful fictional treatment. The story is suitably detailed with pieces of Baltimore locales and historical events, giving it a depth which only adds to the mystery. While the mystery seems to be the center point of the story, it’s truly the interactions between the well-developed and complex characters which brings AFTER I’M GONE to life. I was easily transported into the story through the author’s deft writing style. Laura Lippman is a local author for me and I’m surprised I’d never read any of her works before. This is an error I’m definitely going to rectify! AFTER I’M GONE is an insightful and compelling mystery.

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