The Most Dangerous Thing

By Laura Lippman
Publisher:William Morrow, (8/23/2011)

Average Rating:
Mildly Unleashable
2.17 out of 5 (6 Clubie's ratings)

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Some secrets can’t be kept . . . .

Years ago, they were all the best of friends. But as time passed and circumstances changed, they grew apart, became adults with families of their own, and began to forget about the past—and the terrible lie they all shared.

But now Gordon, the youngest and wildest of the five, has died and the others are thrown together for the first time in years.

And then the revelations start.

Could their long-ago lie be the reason for their troubles today? Each one of these old friends has to wonder if their secret has been discovered—and if someone within the circle is out to destroy them.

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JP's thoughts on "The Most Dangerous Thing"
updated on:1/23/2012

I had a very hard time finishing this book.  I didn't care for the way it was written and/or presented.  The big "bang" factor happened all at once and too soon into the book.  I felt she could have given us something more throughout the book to crave.  My biggest regret is that my husband spent $25 on this hardcover!

Do not Unleash

Steph's thoughts on "The Most Dangerous Thing"
updated on:10/6/2011

Being a fan of short stories, I really liked the way this novel was presented across points of view and periods of time.  Ultimately, all of these points converge to reveal a secret harbored by five friends for nearly 30 years.  It turns out there is more to this secret than even some of those that have been protecting it are aware of.  The author’s style lent itself well to delving into the lives of these friends, and their family members, both in the present and past.  While the revelation of “the secret” was certainly a focal point of the story (although, I agree with Nick’s review where he said that this aspect of the book felt rushed), it was really the characters and their individual tales that was the draw for me.  I also appreciated the glimpse back at childhood in the 1970s and 80s where it was possible for children to freely explore their surroundings, which as one character underlined, is a contrast to today’s more protective parenting approach.  Overall, I liked the book very much and would like to read some of Laura Lippman’s other books.  

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Nick's thoughts on "The Most Dangerous Thing"
updated on:10/5/2011

Recently I ordered a Cobb Salad for lunch at a restaurant where I had never ordered a Cobb Salad before. I really like Cobb Salads and was excited to try this one. The more I ate of it, the more I realized it just kind of missed the mark. Not terrible, but just not hitting that Cobb Salad vibe. I've had all kinds of variations on this classic salad, so it's not like I'm not OK with doing things a little different, but this particular version was just sort of bland and limp.

The Most Dangerous Thing made me feel just the way I did when eating that Cobb Salad. It's generally well written, has some fairly interesting characters, and does move along, albeit pretty slowly. Still, there is something that just didn't click. Maybe it tried to do too many things with too many characters. I never felt like I got to really know any of them. And for as much effort as the book makes to play up this horrifying twist of an ending...the real story turns out to be pretty much exactly what you think it's going to be for the entire book, with a couple random extra pieces attached that don't seem to make much sense in the context of the characters. The first 300 pages seem slow and plodding and the last 40 or so rush through a bunch of matter-of-fact explanation that should draw gasps from the reader, but just don't. 

The story gets on big tangents telling the stories of the parents of the main characters for reasons I can't still really comprehend. It felt to me like the author just hadn't worked out the details of the five main characters and was somehow avoiding them. And this Chicken George guy...if the story would have spent any time actually showing us who this person was and making us care about him, the reader might actually feel something about what happened to him and the mystery surrounding it. As it is, he is just a plot point. Might as well have been the light-filled briefcase in Pulp Fiction.

And while we're on the point of Chicken George, a tiny pet peeve for me was that reading a book with characters called Go-Go and Chicken George made me feel like I was in third grade, reading an Encyclopedia Brown mystery. And how many times do we have to go through the "Go-Go...I mean Gordon" routine in the dialogue? 500? 1,000? We get it...people keep mixing up the child and adult versions of the person. I think I got that point by page 30, but we had to be reminded constantly.

All in all, it's an acceptable book, but this feels like the first draft of a much better book. A little more focused character development would have gone a long way. And as for that Cobb Salad, it's good to have bacon, but you don't want it to be overpowering the avocado. It's all about balance.

Mildly Unleashable

Ceci's thoughts on "The Most Dangerous Thing"
updated on:9/29/2011

This book was a real page-turner, but only because I was in such a hurry to get it over and done with. It starts out promising, with a teaser intro from the energetic Go-Go. It even stirs up some lovely, nuanced moods. Remember when we used to play for endless hours, unsupervised, with our friends? Lippman evokes that blend of exhilaration and trepidation as the kids explore beyond their “safe” neighborhood boundaries, as well as the tolerance and guilt of the parents that look the other way to avoid knowing whether their kids are actually breaking the rules. Unfortunately, we never hear directly from Go-Go again after the intro, which is a disappointment as his is the most engaging voice of all the characters. Instead, the story hiccups among mostly indistinguishable characters, the plot unfolds without any tension or excitement, and in the end “the most dangerous thing” really isn’t all that dangerous or interesting.

Mildly Unleashable

Sam's thoughts on "The Most Dangerous Thing"
updated on:9/29/2011

With several converging characters and story angles from both the present and the past we are really able to get a full and detailed look into the lives of the five young (and now 40ish) friends as well as their parents. We learn how the kid's friendships and self interests shape both their lives and the lives of their friends and family, and how one tragic event can change the course of of everyone's lives - or did it actually? One has to wonder if anything, for any of these characters, would have really changed had "the event" had not occurred. The more I think about it, I don't think so. I think this "transformative event" that is at the core of the story is actually irrelevant. This novel is, and pretty much only is, a novel that is a demonstration in character development. 

Actually, after reading the first chapter my thought was, "Well I bet this story got the writer an A in their creative writing class in college." That same statement could probably be said about all of the chapters that followed. Interesting look at character development. PERIOD. So maybe it is a little "Olive Kitteridge" in that way. But Olive was soooo much more interesting as the common thread than this story line. If you are an aspiring novelist, pick up the book to learn about character development and backstory, but please, when you write your book - throw half of it out and find a better common thread!

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Book Junky's thoughts on "The Most Dangerous Thing"
updated on:9/28/2011

Ba-Ba-Booooorrrrriiing! Sorry to be so cranky about it, but this book was just boring.  It SOUNDS interesting, and I think there will be some good things to discuss at book club, but… it was just boring. My husband asked me what it was about, so I explained (I'll spare you, because you can read the author's description). He said, "That sounds really interesting." And to my amazement, it DID sound interesting… but it just wasn't. Even the climax was a snooze. TOOOOO much back story. Not enough action and the action - though not predictable - was lame. Go-Go was the most interesting character of the lot, but we only were able to see glimpses of him through the other's eyes for the most part. I think following HIS story from his eyes would have been much more interesting then all these lamos. Because there is actually enough to discuss (though you might not realize that at the time of reading) I'll give it a "Mildly Unleashable." But, if you are looking for a truly enjoyable read, leave it on the shelf. 

Mildly Unleashable

"The Most Dangerous Thing"
By Laura Lippman

Average Rating:
Mildly Unleashable
2.17 out of 5 (6 Clubie's ratings)

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