Publication Date: April 2014 from Faber and Faber.
Thank you to the author and publisher for the beautiful advanced reading copy.
When Felix Brewer meets nineteen-year-old 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 always legal businesses, she and their three little girls live in luxury. But on the Fourth of July, 1976, Bambi’s world implodes when Felix, newly convicted and facing prison, mysteriously vanishes.
I’ve been a bit of a fan of Laura Lippman’s novels for a while – they are quietly atmospheric and always beautifully constructed with wonderful storytelling and characters and this was no exception.
When Felix skips bail to avoid a prison sentence, he leaves behind his wife, three daughters and a mistress – when ten years later his mistress also disappears it is assumed that she has gone to be with Felix but then her body is discovered..
Told in present time as a cold case specialist tries to solve the murder, and in flashback showing how Bambi and her daughters have coped, this is compelling stuff. There is a mystery at the heart of it but this is purely about the people – Felix leaves a lot of emotion and anger in his wake, this novel explores the themes of loss, guilt, rejection and love in an evocative and heartfelt manner.
From the seemingly pragmatic Bambi who hides a maelstrom of emotion beneath her tough exterior, down to youngest child Michelle, selfish and demanding, the Brewer girls are formidable indeed and yet vulnerable in many ways. As the story twists and turns – just where did Felix go and more importantly where did his money go – you will be utterly immersed into the multi-stranded family drama. Mistress Julia is also beautifully drawn and fascinating, the mystery surrounding her disappearance and murder only deepens as time goes on. It is a page turner, addictive and real, and bang in the middle of it is a man you know very little about. Felix Brewster.
Appealing and captivating this is perhaps my favourite of Ms Lippmans novels so far.
Happy Reading Folks!