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After I'm Gone

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The acclaimed New York Times bestselling author of The Most Dangerous Thing, I'd Know You Anywhere, and What the Dead Know returns with an addictive story that explores how one man's disappearance echoes through the lives of the five women he left behind—his wife, his daughters, and his mistress

Dead is dead. Missing is gone.

When Felix Brewer meets nineteen-year-old Bernadette "Bambi" Gottschalk at a Valentine's Day dance in 1959, he charms her with wild promises, some of which he actually keeps. Thanks to his lucrative—if not all legal—businesses, she and their three little girls live in luxury. But on the Fourth of July in 1976, Bambi's comfortable world implodes when Felix, facing prison, vanishes.

Though Bambi has no idea where her husband—or his money—might be, she suspects one woman does: his devoted young mistress, Julie. When Julie disappears ten years to the day after Felix went on the lam, everyone assumes she's left to join her old lover—until her remains are discovered in a secluded park.

Now, twenty-six years later, Roberto "Sandy" Sanchez, a retired Baltimore detective working cold cases for some extra cash, is investigating her murder. What he discovers is a tangled web of bitterness, jealousy, resentment, greed, and longing stretching over five decades. And at its center is the man who, though long gone, has never been forgotten by the five women who loved him: the enigmatic Felix Brewer.

Felix Brewer left five women behind. Now there are four. Does at least one of them know the truth?

334 pages, Hardcover

First published February 11, 2014

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About the author

Laura Lippman

133 books5,580 followers
Since Laura Lippman’s debut, she has been recognized as a distinctive voice in mystery fiction and named one of the “essential” crime writers of the last 100 years. Stephen King called her “special, even extraordinary,” and Gillian Flynn wrote, “She is simply a brilliant novelist.” Her books have won most of the major awards in her field and been translated into more than twenty-five languages. She lives in Baltimore and New Orleans with her teenager.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,857 reviews
Profile Image for Dan Schwent.
3,005 reviews10.6k followers
August 3, 2016
When small time gangster Felix Brewer fled Baltimore in 1976 to escape jail time, he left his family and his mistress in the lurch. When his mistress went missing ten years later, everyone assumed she'd gone to live with him in hiding... until her body was discovered years later. Now Roberto "Sandy" Sanchez, a consulting detective, is on the cold case. Can he find what happened to Felix Brewer and who killed his mistress?

I've read a couple of Laura Lippman's Tess Monaghan mysteries and decided to give this standalone a shot when it showed up in my BookGorilla email one day.

While there is a murder mystery, After I'm Gone is more about what happens to the people left behind. Felix Brewer left a wife, three daughters, and a mistress behind when he fled for parts unknown in 1976.

The story is told in several threads, chronicling Felix's days before he ran, Bambi Brewer and her girls as time went on, and Sandy Sanchez, trying to figure out what happened to Julie between her disappearance in 1986 to when her body was discovered years later. Sandy doesn't have much going for him besides his job, an aging detective who gets seduced by a photo of Julie from the 1970's.

Bambi and the girls are varying degrees of messed up after Felix ran out on them. Watching the train wrecks their lives become was grimly fascinating. I was actually surprised at how Michelle matured through the course of the book. I didn't guess Julie's killer until Bambi handed the answer to me. The whole Brewer family seemed like likely suspects.

While it was more straight up fiction than the murder mystery I expected, I still enjoyed After I'm Gone quite a bit, particularly the last 20%. The destination was well worth the journey. 3.5 out of 5 stars.
Profile Image for Carol.
368 reviews353 followers
August 6, 2014
****4.5 Stars**** Excellent mystery! I love these sorts of suspense novels where layers are slowly peeled away to expose old family secrets. The mystery concerns a cold case file starting from 1976 when Felix Brewer, a bookmaker, jumps bail and vanishes rather than face possible prison time. He leaves behind his wife, three daughters and a mistress. The murder occurs 10 years later when the mistress turns up missing and eventually found dead.

The story is told in flashbacks over three decades and from multiple points of view to reveal how his disappearance deeply affected all these women in his life. There’s plenty of intrigue with a murder, missing money and the mysterious whereabouts of Felix Brewer.

While I enjoyed the mystery with all its twists and turns; I was equally captivated with the character study that slowly divulges just how much Felix’s family and friends were willing to risk to keep his secrets and their lifestyles intact. Even though the “whodunnit” was important… figuring out the why was just as fascinating.

This novel was very loosely based on the Salsbury fraud scandal on the 1970s. Highly recommended if you appreciate textured characterizations as much as you enjoy an intriguing mystery!
Profile Image for Joan.
2,559 reviews23 followers
February 6, 2014
This story centers around Felix Brewer, a man who chooses to disappear, and the effect that choice has on his family. The unfolding of their lives is told in bits and pieces with sections focusing on different characters and different time periods in order to tell the stories of those Felix left behind. This plot device, so effective in the earlier “I’d Know You Anywhere,” serves here to jumble the story and make it difficult for the reader to find continuity.

Unfortunately, I found this book far easier to set aside than to continue reading; I was never drawn in enough to really care about the characters or the events that had molded their lives. It wasn’t until the end of the book that the plodding story actually became somewhat compelling. The secret of who was behind the murder of Brewer’s then-current mistress, and the reason for that murder, was not a total surprise. But this reveal, woven into the last chapters of the book, finally served to keep the pages turning.
Profile Image for S.W. Hubbard.
Author 33 books421 followers
April 15, 2014
Laura Lippman is one of my "go-to" authors--someone I read when I'm not in the mood to take a risk, but just want to settle in with a good book that I know I'll enjoy. Her standalone novels are always about how a crime can twist otherwise ordinary lives. So I knew when I started AFTER I'M GONE that it wouldn't be a whodunnit or a "snatched by a serial killer" breathless suspense book. Nevertheless, I was still disappointed by the pace of this novel. There is very little sense of urgency in the investigation of who killed Julie, the girlfriend of a gangster who disappeared rather than face prison. Julie's friends and relatives don't seem to care much. The investigating detective works on cold cases to keep himself busy in retirement and treats this case as if it were a big NYTimes crossword puzzle--challenging, but not urgent. The wife and three daughters of the gangster bear Julie an understandable grudge, but the four of them are just SO dull that it's hard to care what they think or do. Julie and the gangster are the most interesting characters, but they are off-screen after the first 50 pages of the book. In the Afterward, Lippman says the idea for the book was suggested by her husband. Personally, I never take any advice from my husband. Perhaps Lippman shouldn't either.
Profile Image for Britany.
991 reviews434 followers
October 6, 2016
Felix Brewer is married to Bambi (I know right?) and has three daughters when he vanishes from his gambling business/debts and becomes a fugitive. 10 years to the day of his disappearance, his mistress's body is found-- oh yea, forgot to mention not only does he run a sketchy business, he also cheats on his wife with a dancer-- Julie. 20 years later, Detective Sandy opens this cold case and decides to solve it.

The book moved along, shifting between past and present day narration until finally the past caught up the present day. This whole book felt just ok for me. Characters weren't overly developed, the tension existed but lost it's luster by having to attempt to keep up with the storylines going back and forth. It seemed like the author was trying to use too many different gimmicks to tell this mystery (inspired by a true case!). I was relieved slightly with the ending, but there weren't any great twists or jaw dropping moments for me with this book.
Profile Image for Tooter.
441 reviews183 followers
March 13, 2018
4.5 Stars. Another good one by Laura Lippman. Thanks to Jeanette for the recommendation!
Profile Image for Michael.
1,231 reviews115 followers
December 2, 2013
I've been a big fan of Laura Lippman ever since Stephen King recommended her works in his Entertainment Weekly column a few years ago. And so when I had the opportunity to grab Lippman's latest novel early thanks to Amazon's Vine program, I jumped at the chance and immediately re-ordered my entire to be read list.

After being disappointed by her previous novel And When She Was Good, I had high hopes that After I'm Gone would see Lippman returning to form. The good news is that not only does After I'm Gone see Lippman return to form, but the novel is one of her best.

As with many of Lippman's standalone novels, the story is less a whodunnit and more about the impact criminal acts can have on ordinary people. In this case, the ordinary people are the wife, daughters and mistress of Felix Brewer. The novel opens with Brewer slipping out of town in the middle of the night and then fills in (some of) the details leading up to his departure and then looks at the impact it has on his family. Among the central questions concerning many of those caught up in Felix's web of lies and betrayal is was he planning to take his mistress with him when he fled and where did the money that he supposedly through various nefarious activities go?

Lippman adds in a murder mystery as well and as with all of her best novels, there are multiple suspects each with a solid motivation for committing the crime.

Lippman delves into the lives of the women who are in Felix's sphere of influence, crafting chapters that examine each character and her decisions after Felix leaves. Each of these characters is compelling, interesting and Lippman dolls out clues and information in a way that keeps the pages turning. There were several times I kept saying, "Just one more chapter" and ended up reading two, three or four more to discover the next detail and the next beyond that.

If you're not a fan of Lippman yet, this novel is a great jumping in point. And if you're a long-time Lippman fan, After I'm Gone has an interesting Easter egg tie-in to her Tess Monahan series -- one which could signal an interesting new direction for the series, whenever Lippman decides to return to it.

After I'm Gone is one of the best novels I've read this year. Add it to your must read list for 2014.

In the interest of full disclosure, I received an ARC of this novel from Amazon's Vine Program in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for switterbug (Betsey).
845 reviews807 followers
November 15, 2013
I haven’t read any of the Tess Monaghan series by Lippman, but I am a fan of her stand-alones. Her latest is back to form: excellent, character-driven, and providing substantial scenes that build tension without excessive police work or cat-and-mouse scenes. This novel is more of a study of people and families. The police work reminds us that there is a cold case to be solved, but it doesn’t take over the story. There’s as much “why” (maybe more) as “who.”

Widow and retired detective Roberto Sanchez, “Sandy,” is lonely and fills up his hours doing consulting work on cold cases at the Baltimore PD. The case he is trying to solve involves a racketeer, Felix Brewer, who jumped bail before his trial in 1976, left town, never to be found again. He left a wife, Bambi, and three young daughters (one who was too young to remember him). He also had a girlfriend, Julie, who went missing in 2001, and found dead in the woods in 2012. Who killed her? Nobody knows, and Sandy is determined to find out. He believes it is connected to Felix’s disappearance.

What unfurls during the course of this novel is a close character study of Bambi and her children, her lawyer, Bert (husband of her best friend), and the bail bondsman who is now in an assistant care facility. Sandy also pieces together the last years of Julie’s life, while simultaneously investigating Bambi and her family. Lippman has a knack for mining the complex domestic troubles, such as Bambi’s children trying to cope while growing up without a father. And…there’s some missing money. Where is it?

And what connects the past to the present and future? How does memory clarify or complicate the unraveling of Julie’s murder? Over 35 years has passed, and the contours of a story behind the crime can distort or diminish the facts and the truth.

“Did you know the more we tell a story, the more degraded it becomes? Factually, I mean. It’s like taking a beloved or fragile item out of a box and turning it over in your hands. You damage it every time.”

As pieces of the crime, backstory, and even the city of Baltimore materialized, I became invested in the outcome. This is a slow, simmering, casually paced novel. Tension builds subtly; characters organically evolve. The structure of the book is a superb framing device, positioning the beginning and end as bookends. In between are non-linear episodes, designed as moments in time and clues to the crime. Impeccable!
Profile Image for Camie.
915 reviews192 followers
June 14, 2014
Felix Brewer, facing prison charges, vanishes in 1976 , leaving behind his wife Bambi , daughters, and mistress Julie, one of the dancers at his strip joint , to wonder about his whereabouts. 10 years later Julie is missing. 10 years later, retired policeman Sandy Sanchez is working to solve this cold case. This was my bookclub's May choice and my first Lippman read. It is not my usual genre. That said, I thought the book skipped around so much it was very hard to follow. It also has lot's of characters to keep up with, which may have been easier if I had actually liked ANY of them. We learn quite a bit about each character, but what it adds to the storyline , I can't figure out, except for confusion ??? In the end , we do manage to know that YES , there was a crime, and YES we even know who committed it. The question is ... why do we even care ? Last but not least, Felix himself is pretty darn unlikable and disappears from the book after the first few chapters .This book should have been called After I"m Gone ...Start the Party !! 2 stars
Profile Image for Jeanette.
3,390 reviews581 followers
May 9, 2017
Well, I think I have read them all and IMHO this is the best of all the Laura Lippman, including everything in her Tess series. And I'm a fan in general- so that is saying something.

4.5 stars - losing just a tiny bit in the few small confusions of the form. Yes, the time shifting time periods worked here wonderfully, you got uniquely framed personality core at each character's exact age. It's unusual for any author to do that switching so often and continually without losing some of the plot tension; and that did not happen here for me. The tension pulled continually. But within a novel that holds these many prime characters, and all their relatives, spouses, and intermediate friends? It's not one you can easy-peasy glide read either. Not at all. You must pay full attention.

So many of the current modern best sellers dwell in a "sisters' world" or "mother/daughter". It seems to me, far more than for the other gender and their sibling or parental relationships, this is true. So it was SUPER surprising to me to find in this genre one of the best sister, sister, sister triangles that I can remember reading.

Is it really a mystery? Yes. But then no, it is more. Considering all the books I've read in the last 3 years (a completely artificial inclusion, I know)- this one reminded me the most of Commonwealth by Ann Patchett. Because it is more firmly a story of family than it is a mystery. Family broken and yet fused in "other" forms for the breaking and the aftermath of breaking. And still a large quotient is unknown too, a mystery.

LOVED THIS BOOK. It addressed change you didn't want and never saw coming. It addressed abandonment. It addressed money and class consciousness to the extremes. It addressed sibling competition. It addressed male and spousal infidelity when it is chronic. And also when it is dual and steady.

And it superbly addressed how we (and this is nearly every single married, divorced, single or bonding homo sapiens who has ever had strong attraction or life long attachment of goals with another) deal with some of the "worst" situations by "not seeing" what we don't want to see and never truly holding a cognition for any length of time that does not continue to serve our emotional "knowledge and connection of record" with another.

This is one of the reasons why a Mom, or even a neighbor- can say of a thug, defiler, murderer of record and obvious repeat occurrence of lifelong result for others that "he is SUCH a nice boy"? Or when law breakers of multiple record are "just misunderstood" despite the harm they have caused the victims or the misery of aftermath for a myriad of others? It's for the same emotional vs cognitive understanding of /for an individual reality. The victim is not (no the victim is NEVER) the core of long term empathy and understanding at all- but the perp is. And often. It is more now in 2017 true than it ever was too, IMHO.

It also rises to the moral questions of crimes aftermath in depth. Who suffers the most? Those in a cell or those who have to live with the results of the acts? Or the cowards who never confront the results of their crimes but run and begin another self-involved and selfish direction.

Good book for those who just like to read about gossip and hear say fall outs too! And also for those who have been, live, have interest in Baltimore with the rise and fall of neighborhoods and "harbor" views.

The plot is nebulous and the triangle of Felix, Bambi and Julie is the heart of the maze. But it turned me out lost in that maze at least twice, and it was masterfully plotted. Have patience and read slowly. I guessed wrong quite near the end.

I must say I do have one LARGE misgiving. And that is the Bambi post Felix support picture. Not even Scarlet O'Hara could have pulled off that living style for decades without "working" an income that is substantial. Especially for one so close to the beltway and how she spent her days. School tuition would have been a mere tip of the iceberg. Knowing women (being one) who has similar circumstance and ESPECIALLY those who had considerable equity or incomes before the severing- they still ALL (those who left with some support and those who had none- but ALL)have had to acquire full time careers out of absolute necessity. Careers that REQUIRED salaries for raising children in such celebrating styles as Bambi holds, on top of it. She would never have applied for government help or food supplement or anything like that either. And didn't. Those girls could not have done what they did with who they did and when they did. Even if he had left access to a more than a million $$$. For THAT long (decades) and also in that particular time frame? Fiction.

I was also entirely delighted by all the Jewish religious and Yiddish references and embedding them so solidly into the characters' lives. LOVED that because it is very RARELY done so well in the last decade. Kudos, Laura Lippman. Her family Shiva and Seder scenes were fully 5 star, in every sense of their word flow and connotation. The tone and information were perfect. I felt like I was at my friend's Seder.

For some time I was truly on the fence with Lippman. This one is TOPS, a real keeper.

And for all of you who have to find that favorite detective- Tess appears in the last few pages. The wonderful character of Sandy in this novel is going to be her new "help" in the agency. That's a tiny spoiler that will not hurt any for fore-knowledge. Read this one without reading ANY plot summations, and you will grasp this one with more up and down intrigue. Also- the older you are the more you will like this one, IMHO. Younger people are probably going to find it lackluster. This is not so much about passion as about loyalty and not "seeing" what we do not want or NEED to see when we are at our happiest. Even about our own kids, friends etc. Something that energy of youth seldom connotes for what it is.

Profile Image for Debra .
2,419 reviews35.2k followers
May 26, 2014
This book is hard for me to rate. I didn't think that it was that good but it wasn't terrible either. Maybe a 2.75 tittering on a 3 rating. I really liked the synopsis of this book. It sounded interesting. I didn't really care for any of the characters. I didn't like them but I didn't dislike them either. I just felt kinda Meh about this book. It was good enough to keep reading but not good enough that I would recommend it.
Profile Image for Kathryn in FL.
716 reviews
August 2, 2020
This book was especially intriguing. There is much at play, initially the story unfolds about Felix, who is days away from entering the penal system to serve his jail sentence that is under 10 years for fraud and other misbehaviors. Felix is a bookie and runs a strip club and as well as owning legitimate coffee shop. He is also a known among the Jewish elite in the community for giving generously to Jewish causes. When his girlfriend (and former stripper in his club is discovered dead in a heavily wooded park all sorts of questions arise. Roberto Sanchez (Sandy), is a former police detective and who now works as consultant; he is called to review the old files to determine if the cold case is solvable. Sandy selects this Julie's file for review and as he discovers her connection with Felix, he diligently reviews the file and choses to interview all the in the know parties including Felix's wife and daughters.

As Sandy interviews those people in the files at the time of Felix's disappearance and incorporates questions regarding his girlfriend's closest friends and co-workers, we are pointed in several directions. We learn more about the past via flashbacks and various points of view. There is no shortage of possible murder suspects. This story does not lack in character flaws nor intriguing underlying stories. As we learn more, we realize we are wrong about the those involved and who we suspect is the killer of Julie, however, we are wrong again and again. Will Sandy identify the true killer? Of course, he does but I won't!

Though I have only read a few Laura Lippman, I am becoming a real fan. I like her focus on the characters and what makes them tick. Her character studies ring true, no one is all good or all evil but rate somewhere along the spectrum. I appreciate that she doesn't splash gore on every page. This story is for anyone, who yearns for a good mystery.
Profile Image for Obsidian.
2,791 reviews961 followers
July 13, 2020
The only reason why I am giving this 4 stars is that the first part of the book didn't flow very well until we started working in Felix's daughters into the story along with the investigation. Also, I could have sworn the character of Sandy was introduced in the Tess Monaghan series a lot earlier than this book sets up. I am too tired/lazy (yeah really lazy) to look up to confirm that by the way. It just threw me a bit once I realized I was reading about a character from that series. And speaking of Sandy, eh he kind of is terrible. I mean I don't have to like the investigator/police officer in a series to keep reading it, but it helps. I found myself getting tired of anything showing his POV.

"After I'm Gone" is about Felix Brewer who leaves his wife and daughters behind to flee a criminal charge and jail time in 1976. Felix not only abandons them, but he also leaves behind one of his mistress's who thought that he would take her with him in the end. The book then jumps 26 years later to Roberto "Sandy" Sanchez, a former Baltimore detective who now works cold cases. Sandy comes across a photo of a dead woman, Julie, who was Felix Brewer's former mistress. Julie was found dead in the 1986, 10 years after Felix disappeared. Sandy starts to dig. The book then shifts showing Sandy's POV, along with Felix's wife (Bambi), his three daughters (Rachel, Linda, and Michelle), and Bambi's best friend whose husband is also Felix's attorney.

I honestly liked seeing Bambi's POV in the book. You can see what drew her to Felix and how how he behaved started to take a toll on her. You also get to see the fallout of Felix leaving shaped how his daughters handled relationships.

What did make me laugh a bit is that Sandy seems to go in thinking poor Julie until he starts to get a glimpse of the woman who is trying to find justice for in this one. There are a lot of bad people in this one and I also liked how some of them are able to change their ways and try to be/do better.

The mystery was very well done I think and I didn't know who killed Julie or why until the end. And I loved the way that Lippman reveals it too. We also even get to see what becomes of Felix.

The writing at times was a bit hard to get through and I think it's dependent on whose POV/timeline we are reading. Definitely focus on the chapter headers so you don't get lost. The book jumps backward and forwards depending on what Lippman wants to show us readers.

The book sings of a different side to Baltimore than the view we usually get in one of Lippman's Tess Monaghan books. We get to see how the rich behave and live. And how many people will do anything to still be part of that crowd.

This book was loosely based on the Salsbury fraud scandal in the 1970s that took place in Baltimore.
Profile Image for Julie .
4,078 reviews59k followers
February 5, 2014
After I'm Gone by Laura Lippman is a February 2014 William Morrow publication. I was provided a copy of this book by the publisher and Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.
Felix Brewer meets his future wife, Bernadette "Bambi" Gottschalk at a Valentine's Day dance that he and his friend crashed back in 1959. Felix had big plans and promised his wife they would be rich. Well, he did become financially comfortable for awhile, but he didn't make his money the old fashioned way by earning it. He was involved in illegal gambling and in 1976 he was arrested. Looking at a long sentence, Felix decides to leave and go into hiding. The dilemma is he will be leaving Bambi and his three daughters alone and they will have to learn to live a bit more conservatively. That's not all though. Felix has a girlfriend as well and Julie is quite upset about recent developments. As a consolation, Felix signs over a coffee shop to Julie, which was probably his only legitimate business.
Ten years pass by while Bambi struggles to raise her daughters and maintain some financial comfort. She remains close with some of her old friends, her attorney and his wife especially. Then ten years to the day that Felix left, his former mistress disappears. Eventually, they find her body, but her murder is never solved.
Now it is 2012 and former Baltimore detective, Sandy Sanchez is working as a consultant, mainly investigating cold cases. When he runs across a file on Julie he suddenly recalls the case of Felix Brewer and decides he would like to find out who had murdered his mistress.
Sandy could never have imagined the can of worms he was about to open. There were years and years of bitterness, jealousy, resentment, anger, misplaced loyalties and betrayals which may have lead someone to commit murder.
At the core of the story is Felix Brewer. His actions set in motion a chain of events that brought significant changes to five women. Bambi was left practically broke after Felix left, but that is not the way Felix wanted it. In fact, it's a mystery as to where all of Felix's money was. Bambi's daughters were also at the center of everything as they had to make adjustments to life without their father. These events shaped each of them in a different way.
Then there was Julie. She believed that Felix was going to take her with him all the way up until the last moment when he didn't. She changed after that. Many who knew her before Felix claimed that she turned mean after he left her behind. But why did someone murder her ten years after Felix disappeared?

This was a very absorbing tale. One cowardly, selfish man that can't stand up and accept his punishment leave five people behind that will suffer the effects of his actions for the rest of their lives. It takes a dedicated detective to unravel long buried secrets and lies. Family dramas, dysfunction, unrequited love, scandal and an incredible shocker of an ending as the tragic truth finally unfolds.
Each character is well drawn and believable. Bambi still maintains her quiet strength and as much dignity as she can muster and makes sure her girls still get the educations and extras they would have if Felix hadn't been convicted. Each daughter has been through difficult times and heartbreak, but they all settled somewhat. I really loved Sandy Sanchez. He was a one smart cookie. We learn he is a widower and is still adjusting to live alone, dealing with regrets and will decide to continue spreading his wings with new endeavors in the future. I loved the story being told from different eras of time beginning with Felix and Bambi meeting in 1959 then skipping to 1976 when Felix leaves, to 1986 when Julie is murdered and then to various times over the years since the murder to the present 2012 investigation. We really get to know the characters that way as we see them in the various stages of their lives. While this is a murder mystery , there is also a tint of women's fiction and drama as well. I'm also a sucker for cold case mysteries.
I also found it interesting that the Brewer family was based in part on an actual family that went through a similar experience, but with no murder involved.
Overall this one gets an A+
May 18, 2020
This is an intricate story about the women Felix Brewer leaves behind when he disappears in the 1970's to escape a jail sentence. The lives of his wife and three daughters are all profoundly affected by his defection, not least because of the sudden and devastating change to their lavish lifestyle. What happened to all the money? That's a mystery, but everyone assumes his beautiful mistress knows the answer - and almost ten years to the day after Felix goes, she disappears as well, seeming to confirm this theory. Of course everyone assumes she is living in luxury somewhere with Felix - but it turns out she never even left town. Her badly decomposed body is discovered, deep in the local woods, and now the question is - who killed her, when, and why? There are many possibilities due to her scandalous past as a stripper, her relationship with Felix, and of course the certainty of his bitter family that she has their money.

I found this book to be compulsively readable, and each character - there were many - had a story line that I wanted to follow. I give it only four stars because, although I enjoyed the ride, once I got to the end, the solution to the mystery was unsatisfactory to me.

I am glad I discovered this writer, thanks to my book club, and I was pleased to note in the book jacket that she has written many other books. I look forward to more of her work.
Profile Image for Alecia.
Author 3 books35 followers
February 20, 2014
I found the story line meandering and unfocused. I felt removed from all of the characters, and I kept losing track of what the original premise of the story was about. And 3/4 of the way through, I stopped reading. I did note all the excellent reviews, which puzzle me, but obviously people are enjoying this book. Not for me.
Profile Image for Angie.
1,117 reviews76 followers
August 24, 2015
4+ stars...

Simple review.... My first experience reading a Lippman and it was a good one! i highly recommend the audiobook version for mystery lovers. The story & secrets are revealed in bits and pieces venturing back and forth through time in the lives of the key characters.
Profile Image for Karielle at Books à la Mode.
330 reviews83 followers
February 21, 2014
Dead is dead. Missing is gone.

Inspired by the Salsbury fraud scandal of the 1970s, After I'm Gone explores how the enigmatic Felix Brewer's sudden disappearance echoes through lives of his wife, daughters, and mistress—the five women he loved and left behind. Both a legal thriller and dazzling sashay through a span of decades, Lippman's newest novel is elaborate, emotionally charged, and deeply probing.

In present-day Baltimore, as retired cop Sandy Sanchez reviews a cold case involving the murder of Julie Saxony—Felix's woman on the side—he notices there are discrepancies from every angle, from every testimony, and he can't help but grow intrigued by the seductive, unsolved story of Felix Brewer, his family, and how it could all be connected to a dead Julie Saxony. The novel slips in and out of each eventful decade, from the fateful Valentine's Day of 1959 when Felix and young, fresh-faced Bambi first met, to Felix's unannounced departure and the aftermath thereof, and finally, to Sandy's determined investigation. The toll Felix's desertion takes on Bambi—both financially and emotionally—as well as the way each of his well-fleshed daughters are affected, will raise great sympathy within readers, but will inevitably keep them on edge, itching to find out: how did Felix manage to leave without a trace, and why did he go without seeing to the well-being of his beloved family?

After I'm Gone is such a well crafted, well explicated mystery novel. It combines an elaborate, arduous tangle of lies, secrets, and even sacrifice, with a sharp, fast-paced procession of revelations. These continuous shifts, shocking discoveries, and impending truths never stop surprising you until the very end, which I think is a fabulous ploy. It's one of those books where you think you have everything figured out until—bam!—something happens halfway through and changes the entire plot, and then, at the last few chapters, the same thing happens again—and again, and again—bam! bam! bam! The intimate, perplexing glimpses into the lives of the Brewer women through the years of a husbandless and fatherless development really bring the story to life. The way Felix's betrayal affects his daughters' marriages, senses of dignity, and identities transforms this high-stake detective novel into one with human disparities—faults of the flesh—and that's what made it so powerful for me.

There's a purposefully vague, but consistently dark and pressing tone to the novel that's both eventful and stylistically entertaining. Readers remain in the dark about Felix's character, which makes him even more puzzling; but then again, it doesn't really matter because it's his reverberations that make up this book, not the man himself. This is the first Laura Lippman mystery I've read, but based off her commanding voice and complicated, wrenching storylines, she's an author I'm now more than eager to try again.

Rich in historical detail and legalese // Addictive // Reminiscent of the extravagance and flair of the '50s and '60s // Contrived, complicated, original plot // Bambi and daughters are so well portrayed, so lifelike // Mystery seems impossible to solve, and remains unpredictable even until the very end // Weaves complex emotions about family and love within the crime // Will surprise you multiple times—not your average linear whodunnit // Thrilling, engaging

Sandy isn't likable // Too detailed and slow-moving at times // Timeline gets confusing to keep up with

It wasn't pitiable to love someone who didn't love you, or to love someone who didn't love you in the same way you chose, or to love someone more than he loved you. One could even argue that it was brave and pure.

Sandy Sanchez doesn't know what he's in for when he takes on two details of a cold case that at first glance, other than the painfully obvious and quickly dismissed suspicions, have no plausible relation: the untimely appearance of Felix Brewer's mistress's dead body, and the means of survival the man's family turned to in his wake. Equal parts murder mystery and narrative family drama, After I'm Gone contains surprisingly touching wisdom about the tragedy of idealism and how nobody, no matter how beautiful their face or honest their soul, ever really gets what they want. Full of unstable alibis, tenderly guarded secrets, and the buildup of multiple unexpected but long-dreaded twists, Laura Lippman's latest crime novel provides soul-searing, electrifying insight on not only greed, selfishness, and cowardice, but also on identity, the gray areas between marriage and unfaithfulness, and the meaning of fatherly love.

Rating: 8 out of 10 hearts (4 stars): An engaging read that will be worth your while; highly recommended.

Complimentary copy provided by publisher via tour publicist in exchange for an honest and unbiased review (thank you, Harper Collins and TLC!).
Profile Image for Kathryn in FL.
716 reviews
August 2, 2020
This audio version was not what I would recommend. The voice seldom changed to go along with the characters. I had great difficulty following the story as a result.

The story was intriguing enough that I got the Hardcover version and read it from start to finish in a few readings and with great clarity. I reviewed the book and I gave it a 4 star rating.
This is my Hardcover version review:

This book was especially intriguing. There is much at play, initially the story unfolds about Felix, who is days away from entering the penal system to serve his jail sentence that is under 10 years for fraud and other misbehaviors. Felix is a bookie and runs a strip club and as well as owning legitimate coffee shop. He is also a known among the Jewish elite in the community for giving generously to Jewish causes. When his girlfriend (and former stripper in his club is discovered dead in a heavily wooded park all sorts of questions arise. Roberto Sanchez (Sandy), is a former police detective and who now works as consultant; he is called to review the old files to determine if the cold case is solvable. Sandy selects this Julie's file for review and as he discovers her connection with Felix, he diligently reviews the file and choses to interview all the in the know parties including Felix's wife and daughters.

As Sandy interviews those people in the files at the time of Felix's disappearance and incorporates questions regarding his girlfriend's closest friends and co-workers, we are pointed in several directions. We learn more about the past via flashbacks and various points of view. There is no shortage of possible murder suspects. This story does not lack in character flaws nor intriguing underlying stories. As we learn more, we realize we are wrong about the those involved and who we suspect is the killer of Julie, however, we are wrong again and again. Will Sandy identify the true killer? Of course, he does but I won't!

Though I have only read a few Laura Lippman, I am becoming a real fan. I like her focus on the characters and what makes them tick. Her character studies ring true, no one is all good or all evil but rate somewhere along the spectrum. I appreciate that she doesn't splash gore on every page. This story is for anyone, who yearns for a good mystery.
Profile Image for Cheryl.
5,258 reviews195 followers
January 26, 2014
Bambi meet and fell in love with Felix. They got married and had children. Everything was good except for one small detail. Felix has a mistress. Felix disappears before he can face prison. Bambi thought that he left with his mistress. That is until ten years to the day that Felix disappeared that his mistress is found dead buried in a park. Now, it is up to Detective Sandy to figure out what happened to Felix and his mistress.

It has been a little while since I have read a book by this author. I was in the mood for a good mystery book. While I did like this book, I was not in love with it or the characters. Maybe it is because of Felix or that the women in Felix's life were not that intriguing. I kind of drifted along reading this book. What I mean by this is that after reading about a third of the way into this book, I sort of skimmed parts to make it go faster. I did not feel like I missed anything of great importance by doing this. However I must admit that Bambi did surprise me in the end and had me cheering for her. She was smart. Although, I do have to say that I did think the back and forth from past to present was smooth.
Profile Image for Mitch Duckworth.
70 reviews15 followers
August 11, 2014
I'm not sure what novel most of the other folks read to rate this piece in the mid-three's. I'd place it at a 4-and-a-half without hesitation. I'm withholding a five-star rating only because I know there are better books, but damn, really?

Are we becoming too jaded in our reading lives? Is there too much really good stuff within reach of our greedy little hands? I cannot remember the last truly bad book I read. I'm beginning to doubt that I know what a crappy title is. I can't find enough time to read the good books I'm forced to ignore because so many others have captured my attention from the first sentence. My Too Read list extends well past my life expectancy, but I'm destined to be one of those guys who collects a six-months-to-live prognosis from a doctor (or a judge) and runs out to to buy a wheel barrel full of books.

Okay, if I die tonight, before I finish this book of Larry Brown shorts (Facing the Music), I will not be sad to say that Laura Lippman wrote the last novel I read, but I will regret not yet reading those remaining few of hers I've not yet made time for. Squeeze her into your life. She fits right in on the top-notch shelf.

It must have been in my sleep . . . I'd honestly forgotten I had posted the few words (above) about After I'm Gone (which I'm assigning a 4.49 stars rating) and am shocked to realize I had already added another voice to the chorus of kudos Ms. Lippman earns every time out of the gate. "Earns" being the operative word. We raise our voices in praise and gratitude for her work because she deserves it. So far as I know, she is not in possession of a magic amulet guaranteeing book sales and adulation with the release of each of her novels. Short of selling her soul is such a thing even possible?

Ah, perhaps that explains prose that tumbles forth naturally to spin a tale that seems to weave itself effortlessly into a satisfying yarn. Come now, Ms. Lippman, fess up. Is there something we should know? Have you struck a deal?

Far be it from me to judge. If you made a deal; okay. We'll marshal the forces of your fans, petition the "highest courts" on your behalf, and rely upon the power of prayer. In the meantime, I'll hold up my end of the bargain to help make your life on this side of the veil sweet. You keep writing them, and I'll keep buying.

"Dead is dead. Missing is gone." That's the first line of the marketing copy on the inside flap of the dustcover to suggest that you want to read this one. Right. I concur with that opinion.

So why not five-stars? I've grown mighty stingy with five-star ratings. I have to round down to four-stars only because this novel didn't stop my beating heart or make my stilled heart jump back to life with a strong new rhythm. No that would be a miracle. Miracles alone generate five-star ratings from me these days. Could it be that I've become jaded? I don't know. I can only tell you that this is one of those novels that I was hoping to live long enough to finish reading.

Somewhere out there, there is a novel that will find its way onto my nightstand and remain ignored briefly after I'm gone, until it's packed up and carted to the used book store. A page marker in it will mark my progress. It will be a novel that—in the end—I could die without completing. After I'm Gone will be safely on my shelf. I don't intend to part with it before hand; not any time soon, anyway, not until after I'm gone.
Profile Image for Susu.
72 reviews1 follower
June 5, 2017
I've read three mystery/thriller books back to back and although I enjoyed them all, this one had more depth than the others. Despite the numerous characters, they seemed alive, so I never forgot who was who. This book ( my first by this author) was a pleasant surprise.
Profile Image for Bonnie Brody.
1,214 reviews187 followers
December 9, 2013
'After I'm Gone', by Laura Lippman, is a mystery that is also a multi-generational saga of a family and its close group of friends. It starts off with the disappearance of Felix Brewer, a bookmaker with a thriving gambling operation. Faced with jail time, he decides to disappear and leaves his wife, Bambi, and their three daughters in 1976. Though Felix loves Bambi, he has other women on the side. One of them is named Julie Saxony, and she is a more serious relationship than his others though he'd never leave Bambi for her. Ten years to the day, after Felix's disappearance, Julie's body is found and the murderer is never apprehended. It is considered a cold case.

The novel goes back and forth in time from the 1950's, when Felix and Bambi met, to the present, where we learn about Felix's three daughters and the life that they and Bambi live after Felix left. The reader also meets Sandy Sanchez, a Cuban private eye, a retired police officer who is intent on finding out who killed Julie and why. He investigates everyone in the Brewer family along with their close group of friends. We gradually learn about each of the daughters. Michelle is the youngest and most beautiful, a narcissistic teenager who loves to tease men. Rachel is the middle daughter, the smart one, who wants desperately to have a child and spends a lot of time emotionally caring for her siblings. Linda is the oldest, a born mother, who marries someone she loves but who can't stand up to her strong personality. Bambi is a foolish name perhaps but the reader should not be fooled. She is smart, beautiful and charismatic. Everyone likes her and not much gets past her. She was aware of Felix's indiscretions but knows that he loves her most. Why, though, does she have to live in near poverty? Couldn't Felix have left her money so that she could live in the style to which she is accustomed? She finds herself going to Felix's friend Bert, a wealthy lawyer, to tide her over the rough financial times.

While the book is interesting and definitely a page-turner of sorts, it left me a bit high and dry. The plot twists and turns and I enjoyed all the family information and secrets coming to light. What I didn't like is the writing style. So many of the sentences start with the word 'but' that it drove me crazy. Additionally, many of the sentences that don't start with 'but', start with 'and' or 'because'. It's an editorial problem that I just do not like and it could have been easily remedied. The repetitiveness of the word is almost funny.

Lippman knows how to keep a reader's interest and the Brewer family takes on a life of its own. If you don't mind the style and repetitiveness of conjunctions, this is a good book.

Profile Image for Bibliophile.
781 reviews74 followers
March 3, 2014
When criminal Felix Brewer flees abroad to escape prosecution, he leaves behind a wife, three daughters and a mistress. The story revolves around these women, thank goodness. I don't think I could have handled Felix and his huge ego beyond the first chapter. The man actually quotes Fitzgerald to brag about being able to juggle both a wife and a mistress: “The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function". First-rate asshole is more like it. Yet these women adore him, and while I realize this is not an unusual phenomenon, it is one I've never been able to relate to, and so would have liked more of an explanation for this misguided worship. Also, it pissed me off no end - and lessened my sympathy for the characters - that Bambi (seriously, that is the wife's name) and her kids put the blame on Julie, the stripper girlfriend, when Felix and his wandering dong are the ones responsible for wrecking their lives.

When not busy seething with moral indignation, I managed to enjoy the book quite a lot. It spans over thirty years and is told from several different viewpoints, including that of retired detective Sanchez, who picks up a cold case. The cold case being Julie the stripper girlfriend, who is murdered ten years after Felix the Rat flew the coop. Because that, ladies, is what happens when you sleep with married men! You get killed and burn in hell! (The married men end up on Mexican beaches with shapely young things fighting for their attention). There are plenty of suspects, Sanchez finds as he starts digging through old records. Because everyone hates a homewrecker! Sorry, done now.

It's a well constructed mystery with solid characterization and enough suspense to keep you reading, despite a pretty slow pace. There's even a bit of cross-over to the Monaghan-series.
Profile Image for Sandy Nawrot.
864 reviews29 followers
March 16, 2014
Originally I thought this was a murder mystery...a question of who killed Julie Saxony, the ex-stripper mistress of Felix Brewer, a man who skipped town a decade earlier to avoid prison time. And that question does drive the plot forward, but this is more about storytelling. About the havoc that Felix's disappearance wreaked on his family and friend's fates. Lippman slowly unwinds the lives of Felix's loyal wife, his three daughters, his mistress, his attorney and bail bondsmen, over the 30 years since he left. Lippman shows herself as a master storyteller, creating such individual, flawed characters, revealing the pain, the jealousies, the hurt. You need to know that the novel is riveting, but slow-moving, with it cleverly resolved by the end.

The audio was narrated by Linda Emond, who routinely narrates Lippman's novels as well as Kathy Reichs. At first, she doesn't stand out as an extraordinary reader. But as the book progresses, she becomes a pleasure to listen to. Her voice is smooth and pleasant, with subtle emotion. I did notice a number of her words were mispronounced, which is a pet peeve, but enjoyed her performance overall.
Profile Image for Jean.
Author 12 books18 followers
February 22, 2014
Another good Laura Lippman. This one is based on a true story of a gangster in Baltimore who disappeared leaving a wife and three daughters and a lover. The story alternates back and forth in time and viewpoint, which I found hard to follow. I had to keep looking back and almost wrote down a timeline.

One viewpoint (the main one?) is an ex-policeman investigating the death of the girlfriend, 10 years after the disappearance of Felix (the gangster). I wasn't sure of the motives or position of the ex-cop; a lot of time is spent on his previous life, his grief for his wife, and the mysterious person who took care of him. I wasn't sure what all this had to do with the story. The other viewpoints are the girlfriend and the daughters and a little about the wife, as the book jumps around in time and viewpoint. There were lots of details about the actions and feelings of the characters and I kept wondering which were significant and which were "clues."

At the end, all is explained, but I found the ending contrived and the revelation of the killer's identity didn't ring true.

I still like the Tess Monaghan mysteries set in Baltimore; she makes a cameo appearance in this book.
Profile Image for Sue.
2,729 reviews221 followers
September 8, 2014

Another excellent, stimulating, captivating read from Laura Lippman.
When I pick up one of her books I am sure to love it. And I did.

I sometimes have trouble following up to the present storylines then whooop to flashbacks! But the author has tied it in like a puzzle, all the pieces fit. I didn't slow my pace of reading down one bit, so this to me is a good thing. It means I followed it from cover to cover despite the flashbacks to the past.

I think the blurb gives you most of the information of what this book is about so I won't divulge anymore, except to say, if you love a good mystery/thriller, then don't miss out on this one.

I received my copy from Faber and Faber Ltd via Net Galley in exchange for an honest review
Profile Image for Heather.
141 reviews26 followers
July 24, 2015
Good book, couldn't put it down. Audio version.
Profile Image for Siv30.
2,384 reviews126 followers
June 24, 2017
סנדי (רוברטו) סנצ'ס, בלש בגמלאות, יועץ למשטרת בולטימור מועסק במשרה חלקית בפתיחת תיקי רצח מהעבר שלא פוענחו. הוא נתקל בתיק משטרתי מלפני 26 שנה של רציחת ג'ולי סקסוני, פילגשו של פליקס ברואר.

פיליקס ברואר, נעלם בשנת 1976 לאחר שהרשויות הפדרליות האשימו אותו בהעלמות מס והם דרשו שישב 10 שנים בכלא. פליקס שניהל בתי הימורים, מועדון חשפניות וקפה נעלם למשפחתו ומאז לא נמצאו עקבותיו. עשר שנים אחרי, המאהבת שלו ג'ולי סקסוני, נעלמת אך גופתה נמצאת ב- 2001.

כמו ספרה הקודם שקראתי, גם הספר הזה מתנהל בעצימות נמוכה. הוא מסופר ממספר זוויות ראיה של האישה הננטשת - במבי ברואר והבנות. הוא מתחיל מהמפגש בין פליקס לבמבי ומתקדם עם השנים הטובות והרעות אל עבר הפתרון בשנת 2012. הוא מתאר את המאמץ הכלכלי לשרוד ואת המשברים של הבנות. ההקרבות הגדולות והקטנות והתקווה שלא נעלמת בכל השנים.

זה לא ספר מתח ברובו אלא עוסק יותר באווירה ובפסיכולוגיה של אלה שנותרו מאחור. יחד עם זאת, הספר קולח והסוף שלו די מפתיע.
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