TO THE POWER OF THREE by Laura Lippman

A review by Sandra Ruttan

To the Power of Three begins on the night a girl writes a letter and packs a gun in her bag. Within pages, the gun has been fired and the community is reeling from a shooting that’s claimed the life of a popular girl, left another critically injured and a third wounded.

Laura Lippman expertly introduces other threads, some from decades earlier, some only weeks before the incident. As a reader you seem to circle the event, seeing if from every angle. You move forward as the investigation unfolds and then travel back to see pieces of the past. Bit by bit, the story comes together to create a picture, revealing the truth about what happened and, most importantly, why. The method of weaving the storylines together to tell Three demonstrates Laura Lippman’s exceptional talent as a writer and helps create a poignant tale that lingers with you long after you’ve read the last page.

This book doesn’t shy away from looking at the subtle and overt ways children are pressured - both by their peers and their parents - to achieve status, to be accepted, to realize the dreams their parents were unable to fulfill. I felt as though I knew these girls, they were so like the students I once shared classrooms with. Three has a timeless quality because it centers on relationships and roles, what it means to be a daughter, a father, a son, a child, a student, a friend. Beautifully written, heart wrenching and thought-provoking, This is a powerful story, haunting you with the realization that no matter how good your intentions, any decision might have devastating consequences.

For more information about Laura Lippman, visit her website


Based on bio from 2005 National Book Festival

Laura Lippman began her writing life as a newspaper reporter in Texas before coming to Baltimore where she was a newspaper reporter for The Sun for 12 years. Her first novel, Baltimore Blues, introduced us to PI Tess Monaghan. Subsequent novels in that series have won every major mystery award, including the Agatha, Anthony, Edgar, Nero Wolfe, and Shamus awards and In a Strange City was named a New York Times Notable Book of the Year. Her most recent book is To The Power of Three.

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