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No One You Know

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From the New York Times bestselling author of The Year of Fog, No One You Know is "a thoroughly riveting literary thriller" (Booklist, starred review).

All her life Ellie Enderlin had been known as Lila’s sister. Until one day, without warning, the shape of their family changed forever. Twenty years ago, Lila, a top math student at Stanford, was murdered in a crime that was never solved. In the aftermath of her sister’s death, Ellie entrusted her most intimate feelings to a man who turned the story into a bestselling true crime book—a book that both devastated her family and identified one of Lila’s professors as the killer.

Decades later, two Americans meet in a remote village in Nicaragua. Ellie is now a professional coffee buyer, an inveterate traveler and incapable of trust. Peter is a ruined academic. And their meeting is not by chance. As rain beats down on the steaming rooftops of the village, Peter leaves Ellie with a gift—the notebook that Lila carried everywhere, a piece of evidence not found with her body. Stunned, Ellie will return home to San Francisco to explore the mysteries of Lila’s notebook, filled with mathematical equations, and begin a search that has been waiting for her all these years. It will lead her to a hundred-year-old mathematical puzzle, to a lover no one knew Lila had, to the motives and fate of the man who profited from their family’s anguish—and to the deepest secrets even sisters keep from each other. As she connects with people whose lives unknowingly swirled around her own, Ellie will confront a series of startling revelations—from the eloquent truths of numbers to confessions of love, pain and loss.

A novel about the stories and lies that strangers, lovers and families tell—and the secrets we keep even from ourselves—Michelle Richmond’s new novel is a work of astonishing depth and beauty, at once heartbreaking, provocative, and impossible to put down.

307 pages, Hardcover

First published January 1, 2008

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About the author

Michelle Richmond

32 books1,025 followers
Thank you for stopping by! To read my serial novella, sign up for my newsletter at michellerichmond.substack.com

I also share books I love & glimpses into my writing life on TikTok: @michellerichmondwriter.

I grew up in Alabama and have lived in California for 20 years, with a two-year stint in Paris. My 2017 literary thriller, the Sunday Times bestseller THE MARRIAGE PACT, examines marriage under the extreme pressure of constant monitoring from a powerful organization called The Pact. The Pact promises to help couples have a happy, lasting marriage...but the punishments for breaking the rules are severe. THE MARRIAGE PACT is available in 31 languages.

My latest novel, THE WONDER TEST, a suburban suspense novel set in Silicon Valley (Grove Atlantic in, 2021) was an Amazon Best Book of July. In a starred review, Booklist called THE WONDER TEST "a gripping blend of danger and sharp social commentary on high-stakes education, the 1%, and suburban tropes." The first in a series, THE WONDER TEST introduces a tough and spirited new protagonist, FBI agent Lina Connerly, and her teenaged son Rory.

To get updates, exclusive previews, free audio short stories, and (coming soon) serialized fiction, sign up for my newsletter at michellerichmond.substack.com.

You can also read my true stories of living in Paris, traveling, and writing at wanderingwriter.substack.com

My previous books include the New York Times bestseller THE YEAR of FOG, GOLDEN STATE, HUM: STORIES, NO ONE YOU KNOW, DREAM OF THE BLUE ROOM, and THE GIRL IN THE FALL-AWAY DRESS (stories).

I like to write about ordinary people in crisis: a kidnapping (The Year of Fog), a hostage situation (Golden State), a decades-old murder that became a true crime sensation (No One You Know). My novels are often set in San Francisco and the Bay Area, where I've made my home, but my books also take inspiration from many of the places I've lived and traveled. My story collection HUM (2014) features Americans caught up in espionage, surveillance, and all manner of marital crimes.

If you love discovering new books, or if you've enjoyed any of my books, I'd love to send you my author newsletter! It includes notes on what I'm reading, and dispatches from the writing life. You can sign up for the newsletter at http://michellerichmond.com.

Back story: I knew I wanted to be a writer for almost as long as I can remember, way back when I was a kid growing up in Alabama. I used to write skits to perform for my parents with my two sisters. After graduating from a huge public school in downtown Mobile, I studied journalism and creative writing at the University of Alabama, then worked in advertising, as well as in restaurants and a tanning salon (!) for a few years before enrolling in an MFA program in creative writing. I bounced around the South for a while and lived in New York City for a couple of years, with a brief work stint in Beijing, before settling in Northern California in 1999. I've been writing here in the fog ever since.

My first book, The Girl in the Fall-Away Dress was a short story collection that I wrote during my years waitressing and doing other odd jobs in Knoxville and Atlanta. My first novel, Dream of the Blue Room, was inspired by my time in Beijing. My second novel, The Year of Fog, gathered many rejections before being acquired by a young editor at Bantam. The Year of Fog was a life-changing book in that in allowed me to connect with readers in ways I'd never quite imagined, and it gave me the freedom to pursue writing full time. Writing is my dream job. It's a job I do alone in a quiet room, but because it allows me to connect with readers, it never feels lonely.

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5 stars
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 673 reviews
Profile Image for Elyse Walters.
4,004 reviews36k followers
May 5, 2018
2nd Update.... ANOTHER $1.99 special. I think it was great. Very intelligently written.

Update: $1.99 on Kindle Amazon today!
Michelle's book "The Year of the Fog" won book of the year --- years back in the Bay Area.

This is another one of her books. Her writing really stands out. Gorgeous!!
Interesting mysterious travel type tale.

"No One You Know", is more sophisticated than the other two books I've read by Michelle Richmond: having created an original ---even courageous novel. I think its her most 'mature' and very 'impressive' work (of those I've read so far anyway).

She manage to mix the beauty of 'math' with 'Literature' with 'coffee'! Oh...and by the way --A murder took place.

I'm in 'aw' of Michelle's writing with this story. Her skill and artistry felt like seeing through the soul of a painter at times. I didn't rush through the pages --I closed the book a few times to sit, 'think' & 'feel'.

So: A few things:
...This book ought to be enjoyed by BOTH men and women.

...People who have an appreciation for math --(or never have) --but are 'open' in thinking and learning --will enjoy reading about "The Kepler Conjecture". I have the book "The Smartest Kids in the World" to 'thank' for opening my eyes in a 'new light', which 'supported' my elevated pleasure in the 'math' sections of THIS STORY.

...OH MY GOSH: If you happen to 'adore' the S.F. Bay Area as much as I do -- (lived here all my life--other than my 2 year travel escape after college) --
This novel is 'filled' with treats of 'memories' for smiling: (Noe Valley, Octavia, Mission district, Market St.,Tenderloin, Mission District, Geary St. Folsom St. Fair, Opera House, Chez Panisse, North Beach, Haight, Filmore, Napa, Oakland, Berkeley, Atherton, Daily City, Burlingame. Palo Alto (Stanford)....
Walking the streets of S.F. with graffiti, cafes, S&M adult-fun-conventions, musicians and street artists, ...
You'll also get visuals of 'THE VIEW' of the city also: "I KNEW THESE STREETS INTIMACY, FROM THE GROUND UP" ....(says Ellie) .....

Ellie also says (at another time in this story): "WHAT IS IT ABOUT THE BAY AREA, that people always stuck around"? (I laughed). ITS expensive, but 'note': You can't get my husband to move! lol

Oh...and the music: A Cat Stevens fan? Hasn't everyone a 'make-out' story to tell with Cat Stevens music playing?

Coffee Fans? ---Drink tea only? You'll WANT a cup of Coffee with THIS book: PERIOD!

Nicaragua: ---Awwww Wonderful visits during the raining season. Smell the yummy cooking by Maria in the town of Diriomo. Smell MORE *COFFEE* (deep aroma)....Banana Palms, even see a donkey! :)

ok....I've said nothing of the story:
Ellie is our narrator -- NOT the MATH prodigy. (That's Lila). ---

but....you can read OTHER reviews for more of THE MAIN story ---(the characters, the relationships, the mystery --'who-did what'? ---etc.????) ---

I'll end with a quote in the book (which I feel is about THIS BOOK too) ----

"In order for a book to be really good, its not enough to develop the major characters. The minor ones, too, have to be distinct."

I LOVED all the 'minor' themes -details -characters in this story AS MUCH as I enjoyed the story itself!

HUGS ---LOVE --- to the author! GREAT BOOK!

p.s. if I HAD to pick 'one' thing I would change?? It would be the 'cover' of the book. WHY? NOT because I don't think these two women are both very attractive --and even 'draws' you in....
but I'd like to see MEN walking around reading this book.
I've had this 'cover' issue about books a few other times. (so its not the first time).
Profile Image for Lisa Vegan.
2,759 reviews1,218 followers
June 2, 2009
It’s official: I am a huge fan of Michelle Richmond’s writing style, and of her storytelling, and especially the characters she creates and the subject matter she chooses. My admiration for her The Year of Fog was not a fluke; I was wowed by this book also. (I plan to read her other older published novel and book of short stories, and any other writing she creates that I can get my hands on.)

In this novel the author has profound truths to say about stories, life, and loss, and I don’t think I’m using hyperbole by claiming that.

It was written beautifully and includes more than a smattering of incredibly lovely sentences. If I hadn’t been so eager to keep reading I’d have given in to the temptation to note a couple of them so I’d remember them long after reading the book.

On page 196 of this book there’s a very, very funny reference to her previous novel The Year of Fog, done without naming its title, showing an impeccable sense of humor but not deserving of the jabs she took at that book, in my opinion. Having that passage in this book gave wonderful comic relief for those readers who have already read her The Year of Fog.

I guess these two books are mysteries of a sort, although I have them tagged as fiction. I realize that the books I have tagged as mystery are generally those that are part of a mystery series and these are stand alone novels, but they are literary mysteries.

My main gripe was that while reading this book many times I wanted to call out: No, don’t go there alone. No, don’t confront that person yourself. I’m not sure that those parts of the story were flawed; it may be that it’s just that in some circumstances I’m a complete wimp and overly cautious.

But overall, this was a very satisfying read. I really love how in her novels I learn all sorts of new things about the world, something that I don’t find in all fiction. (In The Year of Fog it was photography and memory; in this book it was coffee and mathematics.)

This book has made me think a great deal about the stories I've told and tell myself about my own history and about my own life. It's a very thought provoking read.

Addendum: I just got hold of a paperback edition of this book and it has a particularly good reader’s guide in the back. In addition to the commonly added discussion questions, which are excellent here, there’s other very unique material. There’s a conversation between the author and her two sisters and they talk about not only this book but The Year of Fog and Richmond’s other books too. Having this included is of particular interest because No One You Know is about two sisters, and their relationship is an important part of the story. The author states she thinks music is an important part of a book club meeting and there’s a wonderful No One You Know playlist included; each song has some explanatory information about why it’s included. Now, I’ve never seen anything like this in the back of a book! There are also two recipes for coffee cocktails, also a lot of fun since coffee has such a prominent place in this book. These inclusions are all very satisfying.
55 reviews1 follower
September 2, 2008
I had read The Year of Fog by this author and was eager to read this one. This book, however, was quite disappointing. First of all, the main premise is flawed. The main character's sister, Lila, is murdered and her sister's college professor writes a nonfiction book about the murder naming the killer which would never be done. The person who was named was not the killer and he could have sued the author for libel and collected big bucks. From then on the book went downhill to me. Ellie searches the world over trying to solve the murder of her sister who was a brilliant math student> She finally discovers who murders Lila with clues given to her by the author of the book, Prof. Thorpe. I had to force myself to finish the book. There's a little love story thrown in which goes nowhere and Prof Thorpe has a thing for Lila which also goes nowhere.
Profile Image for Gumble's Yard - Golden Reviewer.
1,775 reviews1,256 followers
February 23, 2019
Well this was a pleasant surprise.

I picked it up from the used paperbacks in a hotel - my own pile of Republic of Consciousness Prize longlist re-reads having been exhausted before the holidays end (I had forgotten how concise so many of them were and also how on a re-read of complex books things slot together so much easier).

Faced with the usual array of crime series novels I picked this simply for being a standalone novel.

I hardly expected then a protagonist who studies Eastern European literature, searching for the truth behind the death of her brilliant pure Mathematician sister.

One whose reading matter as a result flips from G.H. Hardy’s A Mathematician's Apology to Milan Kundera’s The Book of Laughter and Forgetting.

One who is equally comfortable quoting Paul Erdos as Graham Greene.

A plot based heavily around Hilbert’s Problems.

One which explores within a crime fiction both the nature of proof in a mathematical context (the epigraph being from Blaise Pascale) and the nature of storytelling (the stories we tell ourselves, those we accept from other people and those told about us without our permission) and of truth in both a literary fiction, psychological and non-fictional setting.

And one with some fascinating insights into coffee tasting, growing and buying plus some great local colour around San Francisco.

My overall feelings on reading this book were two fold.

One reflecting on the serendipity that a mathematician, reader of literary fiction and non-coffee drinking director of a coffee shop would have picked up and started this ostensible crime fiction with no idea of the connections.

The second that Ian McEwan should be forced to read this book and learn how background research can be used to enhance rather than ruin a book.

Overall an excellent read - but kept at four stars due to the implausible and unecessary progress on the eighth problem at the book’s conclusion.
Profile Image for Meg Clayton.
Author 11 books1,284 followers
June 14, 2008
Toward the end of this incredibly moving literary mystery, the storyteller and Ellie is a storyteller; narrator is far too sterile a word for what is going on here comes to the realization that stories aren t set in stone. I don t know if that is a universal truth, provable to the irrefutable certainty demanded by the mathematician characters in No One You Know, but it is clearly true about the story told in these wonderful pages. This story is set in something far richer: fertile literary soil that is at times dark, at times funny, at times heartbreaking, and, at every step, lyrical. [return][return]I ve been a been reader of literary fiction for more years than I care to admit, and a reader of mysteries for even longer than that, and still no novel comes to mind that, for me, combines the best of both these worlds so elegantly. [return][return]In this novel of stories told and received, retold and unwound, Ellie s search for the truth about the unsolved murder of Lila, her brilliant mathematician sister, is a lovely study of passion, family, loss, and love. It left me thinking about so many things: how we love and why we fear loving; how we define ourselves and those around us, or leave those tasks to others; how important passion is to the work we choose to do; how often untruths told with confidence are received as truths, and how difficult it is to peel back the edges to get a peek behind widely accepted untruths; how much damage we sometimes do to others when we are over-focused on ourselves. [return][return]No One You Know is a book I will be putting in the hands of every intelligent reader I know.[return][return]Snow Falling on Cedars? Perhaps it might be in the same league as No One You Know. Perhaps.
Profile Image for Liz Barnsley.
3,430 reviews990 followers
January 23, 2019
Beautifully done literary mystery following one woman's search for the truth behind her mathematician sisters death. Full review to follow.
Profile Image for Kelly.
309 reviews52 followers
July 29, 2011
I found myself having a few little mixed opinions the whole time I was reading this book. But let's start with the basic plot (no spoilers! promise). Ellie Enderlin was 19 years old when her brilliant, beautiful, math-whiz older sister Lila left one night and never came home. Her body was found just a few days later in a wooded area, but no one was ever prosecuted. Ellie subsequently turned to one of her professors, Andrew Thorpe, with all of her innermost thoughts and feelings... only to later find out that he was putting all of it into a true-crime book about her sister's death. The book quickly became a best-seller. While feeling hurt and betrayed, Ellie reads it and learns that the professor has layed out his own theory of the crime and has named who seems to be the perfect suspect, essentially ruining this person's reputation. Skip ahead 20 years, and Ellie is now a coffee buyer who travels to other countries to visit coffee bean growers in search of the finest selections for her place of employment. She still mourns her sister's death, but has always accepted for truth those opinions layed out by Thorpe so many years ago. Then, in the least likely of places, she runs into someone from her sister's past, which starts her on a journey towards finding out the truth.

Intertwined within the story are a TON of facts about a variety of subjects. It was interesting to learn how coffee is grown and processed and tasted and selected; it made me wish that I actually drank coffee! Ellie has the perfect job, in which she gets to visit exotic locations and get paid to immerse herself in her passion for coffee. Then there are facts and tid-bits about math scattered all throughout the book, some of which are interesting and some of which only math majors could possibly understand. Additionally, there is a ton of name-dropping of books and authors that only English/literature majors would ever have heard of. Some of it was interesting, some of it fit with the story, but a lot of it just seemed extraneous, as if the author kept saying "Look how much I know!" It felt semi-pretentious, and it distracted from the story itself. Of course I didn't count occurances, but it felt like half of the book was devoted to these mini-lessons and name-droppings and extra bits of knowledge, and it didn't always serve any purpose. I remember feeling similarly while reading The Year of Fog; it was a great book, but the constant references and descriptions of places in San Francisco made it feel tedious at times, and distracting - only readers familiar with San Francisco could picture it in their minds and relate.

Overall, this one is very enjoyable and worth a read, and my only reason for giving it 4 stars instead of 5 is as described above. I really enjoyed Ellie's travels and journies for the truth, her descriptions of what kind of person Lila had been, and her interactions with the professor.
408 reviews2 followers
August 5, 2021
This is a book suffering from multiple personality disorder. It might be a story of a character reconciling with her past; it might be a murder mystery; it might be a romance... but it is successful at none of these. Richmond begins with a sound premise: a young woman living life in the shadow of her sister's unsolved murder. Then, the author seems to lose track of her own aims. Her protagonist's actions are not-quite-credible in a number of scenes and the purported reasons for the actions are often faulty. Her investigations lead to a very contrived resolution to the who-done-it, and the romance is never more than a possibility. To top it all off, Richmond feeds us windy lessons from some hackneyed writer's manual as well as pages of yawn-inducing mathematical philosophy, neither of which has any honest connection to the story at hand -- the former supposedly words of a college lecturer/bookwriter and the latter the specialty of the murdered sister (but with no connection to her cause of death or to the protagonist's reconciliation efforts). Disappointing at best.
Profile Image for Julie Ehlers.
1,111 reviews1,397 followers
May 20, 2018
I bought this expecting a Jodi Picoult–type read, but got much more. This, in spite of its terrible, generic cover, is a literary novel with a lot of interesting elements—the emphasis on storytelling, on coffee, on math, on the relationship between sisters, with music and San Francisco, and Ben Fong-Torres (!), and all its interesting characters—I could have happily lived within this novel for a longer period of time.
Profile Image for Sara.
Author 1 book487 followers
July 24, 2014
Richmond has a fast-paced, riveting style that carries you along like a leaf swirling downstream. She doesn't cheat...we have all the pieces to the puzzle. I like that! I could relate to Ellie in both her love for her sister, her confusion regarding herself, and her need to find the truth at last. Deeply moving, completely realistic, profoundly human. Richmond is on my list of authors always worth reading.
Profile Image for Katerina.
806 reviews691 followers
August 27, 2015
Совершенно не обязательное и очень среднее чтение про девушку из Сан-Франциско, у которой убили сестру-математика, а потом и личную жизнь, и вот она пытается как-то поправить и то, и другое, с переменным успехом. Получилась не ахти какая помесь Скарлетт Томас с Жоэлем Дикером.

В русской версии дважды встречаются выражения "с дорогой душой" (wtf и wth, в значении примерно "я бы с радостью") и "покушать", за что я бы, конечно, убивала.
Profile Image for Sara.
1,379 reviews65 followers
March 9, 2011
What an amazing book - well written and such a compelling plot. Twenty years ago, Ellie's mathematical genius sister, Lila, was murdered and the crime never solved. The loss tore apart her family, especially when a professor at the university wrote a book about Lila's murder and blamed another professor for the crime. Ellie's spent the years without Lila searching for a meaning in life and believing that the man named in the book as responsible actually was guilty. One day, Ellie runs into the man accused of the crime, who proclaims his innocence once more and gives Ellie her sister's old math journal. Ellie suddenly realizes that she believes his claim of innocence and begins to investigate the crime on her own.

The one thing in the book that I had trouble believing is that the man accused of the crime in a supposed non-fiction book did not sue the author for libel - after all, this very public accusation ruined his life - but the rest of the book was so good that I easily overlooked this. The story jumps around in time effortlessly, with memories of Ellie's childhood with Lila interspersed with the days right after she died and the present days; I had no trouble keeping the timeline straight. I sympathized with Ellie's plight, and I loved how multi-faceted her character was; she was overwhelmed with everything relating to Lila but determined to define herself somehow on her own terms.

The author did a beautiful job writing this. It flowed so well and there were so many sentences and paragraphs filled with profound thoughts. One of my favorites was: Lila was like an unfinished novel - two hundred pages in, just when you're really getting into the story, you realize the rest never got written. You'll never know how the story ended. Instead, you're left with an abrupt and unsatisfying non-end, all the threads of the plot hanging loose. I would say that few books are as well-written as this one! Even the end was absolutely perfect - something you can't say that about many books.

I am so glad I finally read this book after putting it on my to-read list ages ago. I would definitely recommend this to anyone looking for a thoughtful, moving read. I can't wait to read more from this author!
Profile Image for Gina.
1,160 reviews92 followers
August 11, 2013
Goodreads Description- All her life Ellie Enderlin had been known as Lila’s sister. Until one day, without warning, the shape of their family changed forever. Twenty years ago, Lila, a top math student at Stanford, was murdered in a crime that was never solved. In the aftermath of her sister’s death, Ellie entrusted her most intimate feelings to a man who turned the story into a bestselling true crime book—a book that both devastated her family and identified one of Lila’s professors as the killer.

Decades later, two Americans meet in a remote village in Nicaragua. Ellie is now a professional coffee buyer, an inveterate traveler and incapable of trust. Peter is a ruined academic. And their meeting is not by chance. As rain beats down on the steaming rooftops of the village, Peter leaves Ellie with a gift—the notebook that Lila carried everywhere, a piece of evidence not found with her body. Stunned, Ellie will return home to San Francisco to explore the mysteries of Lila’s notebook, filled with mathematical equations, and begin a search that has been waiting for her all these years. It will lead her to a hundred-year-old mathematical puzzle, to a lover no one knew Lila had, to the motives and fate of the man who profited from their family’s anguish—and to the deepest secrets even sisters keep from each other. As she connects with people whose lives unknowingly swirled around her own, Ellie will confront a series of startling revelations—from the eloquent truths of numbers to confessions of love, pain and loss.

A novel about the stories and lies that strangers, lovers and families tell—and the secrets we keep even from ourselves—Michelle Richmond’s new novel is a work of astonishing depth and beauty, at once heartbreaking, provocative, and impossible to put down.

This was an eloquent book about love, loss, and living your life authentically. I loved Richmond's writing style in this book, it almost seems lyrical at times. 4 stars. Full Review in Progress.
Profile Image for Jacki.
424 reviews28 followers
October 24, 2008
I read this in just a couple of sittings. It sucked me in from the beginning and hooked me til the end. I loved how she talked about the elements of stories within her story. It was like she was writing to the reader.

The story itself was a major draw: her sister was murdered 20 years ago- the guy accused of killing her appears in this random restaurant in this random city and says he didn't do it- gives her his sister's notebook- she is intrigued, tries to find who had murdered her sister.

Along the way, we get a picture of what their relationship was like and what their life was like & all the far-reaching fall out of Lila having been murdered.

Like Year of Fog, this was set in San Francisco and had a lot of pop culture references, which I really liked. It seems like the author is connected and knows about 'real life'... I like that ;)

I enjoyed this. 4 Stars.
Profile Image for Susan Bazzett-Griffith.
1,735 reviews46 followers
September 13, 2020
I don't love mysteries, and I didn't think this was going to be a mystery (it was, but at least the mystery was secondary to character development), so I was a little disappointed by that; however, Michelle Richmond is a beautiful writer, whose characters are so vivid that readers empathize with them immediately, and she could probably write anything well. I loved this story, about Ellie- a woman who spends her life dealing with the aftermath of her sister's brutal unsolved murder, and how that shaped her life, as well as the lives of her confidante/professor, her parents, and the man accused of the murder by a sensationalist true-crime author. I had a difficult time putting this one down. 4 stars.
Profile Image for Perri.
1,281 reviews48 followers
May 7, 2014
This is a smarter than average thriller book-math coffee but still manages to keep action driven and entertaining. Readers follow Ellis in her search to find out who killed her brilliant sister twenty years ago and learn how her murder affected people in different ways. Well written and engaging.
Profile Image for Nicole.
146 reviews4 followers
July 2, 2009
I liked this book although it took me quite awhile to get through it, almost a month. I didn't care so much for the paragraphs of math theory. I appreciated their element to the story and what it added pertaining to Lila and Peter's characters, but I thought that it went a little too much into it too often and distracted me a bit from the story.

That said, I really liked the main character, Ellie, and that is important to me in a story. I thought it was very well written. I liked Ellie's interactions with other characters as she tries to find what happened to Lila and the mystery surrounding that. I liked not knowing whether she would or not. With most books, I would have assumed that of course in the end she would know the answer, but with this one, i wasn't so sure.
Profile Image for Sharon Huether.
1,474 reviews10 followers
November 17, 2019
Two sisters Ellie and Lila. Lila a top math student at Stanford University. Lila is missing and later found dead.

A friend of Ellie's writes a book of the murder of Lila, which makes him look guilty and exposes the grief her family is suffering.

Ellie is doggedly trying to find the killer from her sister's math equation notebook. One day she get a license plate number and car description on a piece of scrap paper. She know what she has to do.
Profile Image for Ellen Puccinelli.
66 reviews5 followers
October 6, 2008
Fantastic book -- beautifully written, compelling story. I loved Michelle Richmond's previous novel The Year of Fog, but this one was even better. This was one of those novels that engaged me 100%, no matter where I was and what was going on. I very much enjoyed the mathematical theory storyline and what I learned about this discipline. Definitely recommended.
Profile Image for Amanda Christina.
202 reviews3 followers
March 7, 2018
Near perfect! It’s rare to call a crime novel beautiful, but this was. Each character was well written, and Ellie was a protagonist with heart. While I figured out the killer at the character’s introduction, the reveal was still crushing.

Haunting and stunning. Happy to have found a new favorite author in Michelle Richmond.
Profile Image for Kathleen.
150 reviews
January 31, 2021
The main character is living in the shadow of her sisters murder. This book goes in several directions, none of which, for the most part, leads anywhere. Even the conclusion is lackluster. Useless drivel about mathematical philosophy was not necessary. Definitely not my favorite book by this author.
57 reviews
January 23, 2022
i mean...it was okay? when the reveal came up i wasn't really shocked or anything. hated the fact that it had math in there and i had to force myself to finish it. wouldn't read it again.
Profile Image for Virginia.
949 reviews112 followers
August 29, 2022
My mother was always supportive, and nothing would have pleased her more than to have many fronts on which to praise me. But while Lila’s intellectual gifts made hr a magnet for spontaneous and genuine praise, I knew our mother had to work a little harder with me.
After brilliant, lovely and ambitious Lila dies, her bereft younger sister Ellie wanders into the job she ends up doing for 18 years - travelling internationally to buy coffee for a privately-run business.
”So unless the human race somehow manages to get infinitely smarter,” Lila said, “the planet will die out without us solving this basic problem about infinity.”
“What if your Goldbach Conjecture is the same sort of problem?” I asked. “What if you spend the next thirty years pursuing a proof that doesn’t exist?”
“Then at least I’ll know I tried.” Lisa said. “At least I’ll know I did everything I could and I didn’t give up."
This is a book about proof, and about how gobsmackingly easy it is to get people to believe that guesses and conjecture are incontrovertible truth. It’s about how people don’t seem to need concrete proof to believe fantasy stories, and about how easy it is to ruin someone else’s whole life with one of those stories.
It’s about what we take for granted, the “truths” we believe implicitly and without question simply because we’ve been told they’re true. There are so many delightful little details to dwell on here, like the ubiquitous fog that seems to oppose Ellie's clarity of vision, and the circular shape of almost everything - the plot, the torii, even the donuts.
I resented math in senior school, the amount of time I needed to put into understanding mathematical concepts, but it always struck me as a basic premise of my life that math and numbers, bookkeeping and finance and probability, are all about balance; I have a suspicion that I’d enjoy the study of math much more now that I’m an adult and have a profound and heartfelt appreciation of balance in all things.
"Sewing has a lot in common with math. You’re looking for the most elegant outcome, putting things together in a way that’s precise, unexpected, and ultimately beautiful."

Profile Image for Mark.
Author 125 books147 followers
January 29, 2020
All her life Ellie Enderlin had been known as Lila’s sister - until the day Lila, a top maths student at Stanford, was murdered. Twenty years on, Ellie is a professional coffee buyer who’s never put down roots but when a chance meeting gives her possession of the notebook Lila carried everywhere, Ellie returns home to finally discover the truth about her sister’s death.
I picked this up because everything about it - the cover image, the blurb and the “for fans of…” message scream psychological thriller but it’s not at all, it’s a literary drama that has a murder mystery but is mainly about a woman grieving for her dead sister. It works very well as that - Ellie is a clearly defined character and the way she deals with the situation, ruminating on life and grief, was very well handled. San Francisco, where most of the book takes place, is well used, especially the foggy evenings and Richmond writes about the city atmospherically. A big glitch for me was the murder itself - would the police really allow a young woman’s murder to remain officially unsolved even though a famous exploitative book has named a killer who, rather than sue for defamation, has chosen to run away to South America to start again?
Generally, I liked it (though Richmond herself nails my main problem, when she has Ellie think a ‘book had been interesting if somewhat drawn out…I started skipping long passages…just to get to the meat of the story’) and would definitely recommend it, though if you’re looking for a straight psychological thriller then this probably isn’t for you.
Profile Image for Wendy.
1,043 reviews30 followers
June 5, 2009
I imagine Ellie would be dismayed to learn that I do not like the taste of coffee. I do not even care for mocha ice cream. But, oh, do I love the smell of a fresh pot of coffee, especially in the morning!

Ellie Enderlin has the perfect nose for coffee. She had never set out to become a coffee buyer, but it is a career well suited to her. She can pick out the individual scents and flavors of varying coffee types and knows a good coffee bean when she comes across it. During her most recent business trip to Nicaragua, Ellie ran into a person from her past, a person she never expected to see again.

Nearly twenty years before, Ellie’s older sister Lila was murdered, her body discovered in the woods days after Lila had disappeared. Lila was the golden child of the family, the math genius. Ellie always felt she was living in her sister’s shadow, never quite living up to her parents’ expectations. Lila was extraordinary. Ellie felt ordinary, even after Lila’s death. Ellie and her sister could not have been more different, one finding comfort in numbers and the other in books. Where Ellie was more social, her sister seemed to prefer solitude. Still, the two young women loved each other very much and shared a bond that only two sisters could share. Lila’s death was devastating to her family. She left behind a gaping hole that could never be filled.

Upon her sister’s death, Ellie turned to her professor as a confidante, leaning on his shoulder for support. She trusted him with her inner most thoughts only to have him turn her family’s tragedy into a bestselling spectacle. He went so far as to name the man he believed was behind the death of Lila in his book, something even the police could not do.

It was the man accused of Lila’s murder that approached Ellie in the out of the way Nicaraguan restaurant late one night. What he told her would change Ellie’s life view irrevocably. Everything she came to believe to be true was suddenly in question. Was it possible that this man, Peter McConnell, really was innocent of her sister’s murder? Ellie is suddenly determined to learn the truth, and, in the process, she learns much about not only her sister, but herself as well.

No One You Know is an amazing novel. Simple as that. Michelle Richmond has created characters that are complex and deep. Ellie’s issues with trust are multi-layered. She always believed her sister was murdered by someone her sister trusted and loved. How then could she trust those close to her? And then to be betrayed by a close friend when her confidante wrote a book about her family’s tragedy against her wishes. Is it any wonder then that Ellie has problems with trust—and love? Then there is Lila who even in her death is wholly alive in the novel. The more Ellie learns about her sister, the less perfect Lila seems, and the more equal the two sisters become.

There are the other major players in the book. Andrew Thorpe, former professor, now bestselling author. He charmed his way into Ellie’s life and while he may have truly believed he was a good friend to Ellie, his motivations and actions said otherwise. Peter McConnell, Lila’s math partner and the man Thorpe accused of having murdered Lila had fled the country, driven out away from his family because of the accusations being leveled at him. His entire life was ruined, and yet he had found some sort of peace in his new life, surviving as best he could. I cannot leave out mention of Henry, Ellie's ex-boyfriend. She gave more of herself to him than she had to most others in her life, and yet she still held back. There are other characters as well that stand out. Each one having a distinct purpose in the novel.

“’ . . . in order for a book to be really good, it’s not enough to develop the major characters. The minor ones, too, have to be distinct. When readers close the book, they shouldn’t just remember the protagonist and antagonist. They should remember everyone who walks across the pages.’” [pgs 268-269:]

San Francisco is a beautiful city and proved to be the perfect setting for the majority of No One You Know. I have a special fondness for the city myself and could relate to Ellie’s admiration and love for it. The author paints San Francisco just as it is, both in its glory and is haze, which fits the story all the more.

One of my favorite aspects of the novel was the balance between mathematics and the elements that make a good story. Two aspects that might seem so very different on the surface, and yet share a lot in common. On one hand the author would offer a mathematical conjecture and how it may come to be proven, while on the other, she would describe how a story is shaped and formed. It is an overreaching theme that fit well with the discovery of truth in Lila’s death, the building of proof to make an absolute, the forming of a story with a beginning middle and end. For me, it was also an extension of Lila and Ellie, their differences and also their similarities.

The true crime book aspect of the novel provided a lot of food for thought. It felt like Andrew Thorpe had taken advantage of his friendship with Ellie, and exploited her family's tragedy. Not only that, but it also had resounding repercussions on Peter McConnell and his family. There are many viewpoints out there about true crime, including whether it is pure sensationalism or provides a valuable truth. I am not sure even now where I stand. I think that it can be either or and some of both.

My favorite quote is actually the final two sentences of the book, which I have decided not to share here. And while neither contains a spoiler, part of its power comes from reading it in context. As I read those lines, I found myself nodding in complete agreement. It was the perfect wrap up for this wonderful book.

I cannot say enough about how much I enjoyed this book. The characterizations, the setting, the story, and the language drew me in so completely. There was no one aspect of the novel I did not like. No One You Know is a novel that will appeal to mystery lovers as well as those who prefer contemporary fiction. While the mystery plays center stage, it is the growth and development of the characters that are really what this novel is about. It’s a combination that I find irresistible and I hope you will too.
Profile Image for Kristen.
107 reviews
August 27, 2018
This is the story of the murder of a brilliant college mathematician and the impact her murder had on her sister Ellie, parents, and others around her including Ellie's college professor who uses the story to further his career as a writer. The plot centers around Ellie, a coffee importer, who takes a new interest in trying to solve the puzzle of Lila's murder after a chance meeting with a man who was named as the probable murderer in the true crime novel written by her professor. The rest of the story consists of flashbacks to Ellie's childhood with Lila, a reunion with her old college professor, and her attempts to find out what happened to Lila all those years ago.

While I enjoyed the mystery aspect of the story, this book does not strictly focus on the who done it but on how this terrible tragedy has shaped her life and how it impacted her decisions, relationships, and lifestyle.

Her professor Andrew Thorpe's book about the murder serves as a cautionary tale in this age of sensationalism of crime. It illustrates the danger inherent in attempting to shape a true story, as of yet unsolved, into a good story with a beginning, middle, and end. Thorpe chooses his details and the ending that best fit the narrative rather than what might be closer to the truth. It is a reminder to us all to take what we read, see and hear about these crimes with a grain of salt understanding that news stories in a 24 hr news cycle are developed not only to inform but the entertain. Some bits of the story will be amplified while other bits will be edited out in order to engage the audience. The risk, though, is that sometimes the truth can get lost in the jumble of information.

My other observation is that this book was all over the place providing bits of knowledge from so many different areas that it made my head spin. The author managed to cover complex mathematics, horses/farms, the coffee industry, music, San Francisco, you name it, she talked about it in detail. I feel that the story might have benefited from dialing this back a notch and maybe using 2-3 of these areas to highlight.

Profile Image for Natasha du Plessis.
1,040 reviews7 followers
November 10, 2017
A story, after all, does not only belong to the one who is telling is. It belongs, in equal measure, to the one who is listening.
This quote in the book sums up the whole story of Ellie and how she saw the death and subsequent solving of her sister's murder and how Lila's death influenced her whole life.
I loved the characters and the way in which the story was told, I also loved the references to the coffee cupping as I am not a coffee drinker but recently attended such a cupping session.
A must read if you are a Michelle Richmond fan.
Profile Image for Terri Somerhalder.
2 reviews1 follower
February 14, 2019
Another good beach read. Really enjoyed and am happy to discover this author. Good whodunit - some suspense, but not enough that causes nightmares, which is what I look for in a mystery.
Profile Image for Grenouille78.
49 reviews
June 11, 2019
I did not enjoy being hit over the head with the math hammer. I don't like coffee either. Obviously, this was not the book for me. The story was ok. I didn't particularly care for/about any of the characters with the exception that I actively disliked Andrew Thorpe.
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