What The Dead Know by Laura Lippman
Published February 2008 by Harper Collins Publishing
Thirty years ago two teenage sisters disappeared from a shopping mall and their bodies were never found. Now a disoriented woman, involved in a car accident, claims to be one of the Bethany sisters. But after that admission she clams up. Where has she been and why hasn't she made contact sooner? And what happened to the other sister? There's no evidence to support her claim and every lead she gives the cop investigating her claim leads to a dead end. Eventually details begin to come out involving a beloved detective, years of sexual abuse and the murder of the other sister. But when the girls' now elderly mother comes to town, a terrible truth is revealed.
This story skips back and forth in time and Lippman does a wonderful job of it, never losing the thread of the current investigation while exploring the background. The Bethanys are an odd family; the parents relationship is strained and the girls' upbringing causes two very different reactions from them resulting in a very believable relationship between them. The disappearance of the girls results in the breakup of the parents marriage, as they each deal with the situation in different ways. There are a lot of characters in the book, including the police detective that originally investigated the disappearance, a social worker who takes in the mysterious woman, and the detective now trying to unravel the mystery. Lippman does a fine job of fleshing out all of these characters. This will keep you guessing until the last chapter but it does take a while to wrap up.
More Lippman is definitely in my future.