What I like most about Laura Lippman’s book The Most Dangerous Thing is that it’s a nice blend of a mystery and literary fiction. In this case, it’s about childhood friends growing apart and how they are dealing with childhood friend Gordon, who committed suicide.
The focus of the story are Gordon’s group of friends who like to go into the woods and eventually meet Chicken George, who lives in a shack with chickens. Sometimes he’s there, other times he’s not. The mystery of the story is how Chicken George is murdered and who did it.
The story switches point of view throughout the story, starting in the present, when the friends are together and grieving over Gordon’s death. Then the story switches back to the characters childhood when they go exploring in the woods and meet Chicken George.
As a mystery, I would say that it’s not a murder mystery where you’re trying to figure out who murdered Chicken George. It’s hard to look for clues during the story and the only way you know what happened is just to read the story and see why the murder was committed in the first place.
As a work of literary fiction, it’s a nice combination with the mystery although there is a lot of information that you don’t want to know about from Gordon’s childhood. To me, it was too much information and made me cringe when I was reading it, especially as more of Gordon’s past is revealed.
The story has a lot of tension as it moves on Gordon’s friends and the secrets that they have. There are layers of secrets and the friends don’t want to reveal the secrets because of the ramifications that it will bring with it.
As a result, the story isn’t predictable and is believable since it involves the parents and their reactions to what happens to Gordon and the other children, as well as Chicken George’s death. It may seem hard to believe that the children spend a lot of time in the woods though as well as being friendly with Chicken George.
To me, the story started out well but as the story moved, there was just too much information about Gordon that I didn’t want to know about. I thought that while the author tied the story together nicely in the end, there was a part of it that seemed to come out of left field that could have been brought out earlier in the story.
In any case, it’s a good read but tough at the same time. I’ll give it four stars.