What the Dead Know

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What the Dead Know
Author Laura Lippman
Country United States
Language English
Genre Crime novel
Publisher William Morrow
Publication date
March 13, 2007
Media type Print (Hardcover)
Pages 384 pages
ISBN 0-06-112885-6

What the Dead Know is a crime thriller by Laura Lippman published in 2007.[1] The story, set in Baltimore in 2005, is about an investigation into a woman who claims to be Heather Bethany, a girl who had gone missing thirty years before. The book was critically acclaimed. It won the 2007 Quill Award in the mystery/suspense/thriller category and 2008 Anthony Award for Best Novel.

Critical reception[edit]

Reviewers saw What the Dead Know as a success both as a well-crafted mystery and as an emotionally powerful novel.[2][3] The Guardian called it a "realistic and poignant detailing of emotional hide-and-seek, ... an excellent mystery and a thoughtful exploration of the nature and effects of grief and loss."[4] The reader is kept guessing to the end as to the identity of the mystery woman.

Main characters, as first introduced[edit]

  • The Bethany family: Dave and Miriam (née Toles); daughters Heather and Sunny
  • Penelope Jackson – registered owner of a car in a highway accident
  • Detective Kevin Infante – lead investigator
  • Harold Lenhardt – Infante's sergeant
  • Gloria Bustamante – lawyer
  • Nancy Porter – police researcher and Infante's former police partner
  • Kay Sullivan – social worker at St. Agnes Hospital; children Seth and Grace
  • Dr. Schumeier – psychiatrist at St. Agnes Hospital
  • Chester "Chet" V. Willoughby IV – retired detective
  • Stan Dunham – former Pennsylvania property owner
  • Irene – a foster mother
  • Tony Dunham – man killed in a Florida house fire
  • Roy Pincharelli – music teacher
  • Joe – art gallery owner
  • Javier – art gallery employee
  • Jeff and Thelma Baumgarten – couple in fidelity crisis
  • Ruth Leibig – Ohio school girl
  • Estelle and Herb Turner – practitioners of Fivefold Path spirituality
  • Priscilla "Syl" Browne – employee at "Swiss Colony" restaurant


  1. ^ Laura Lippman, What the Dead Know, William Morrow, 2007. ISBN 0-06-112885-6, ISBN 978-0-06-112885-1.
  2. ^ Patrick Anderson, "A Virtuoso Reappearing Act" (review of What the Dead Know), Washington Post, March 19, 2007; Page C03.
  3. ^ Janet Maslin, "Maybe She’s Reappeared; Definitely She’s a Mystery" (review of What the Dead Know), New York Times, April 5, 2007.
  4. ^ "What the Dead Know" (book review), The Guardian, July 14, 2007.