This is a summary based on my understanding of the novel. Please also note that this summary contains spoilers. You may want to read the entire book first before proceeding - click this link to purchase via amazon.
After I’m Gone by Laura Lippman (Novel Summary)
Bambi met Felix Brewer when she was 19 years old, and they ended up together. Got married and were blessed with three daughters. Their family was well off, with Felix owning several businesses, including a strip club and a casino. It all went downhill when Felix disappeared when something went wrong with the business, and he didn’t want to go to jail. He ran away to avoid prison, left his wife, three daughters, and her girlfriend, Julie Saxony.
Julie met Felix when she was recruited to work at his club. They began dating, and even though she tries not to make it obvious, but she is hoping that Felix would leave his wife for her. She hoped that he would choose her. When Felix had to leave to avoid the charges, he helped Felix get away – he gave her the coffee shop before leaving her. She was secretly hoping that he would take her with him. She even got a passport, with the help of Felix’s lawyer, Bert. She had it with her just in case Felix asks her to go with him – but he didn’t look back, and she never heard from him again.
Several years later, life went on, even though it was difficult. Bambi is struggling with money – she raised three daughters by herself, with only the little money that she has in her bank account with Felix. Felix’s 3 daughters grew up and led their own lives – Linda, the eldest, married and with kids. Rachel, on her 2nd marriage, and adopted a child from China, and Michelle, the youngest, also got married to a hand surgeon, she has two kids. Among all of them, Michelle was the luckiest, since her husband was wealthy and he also took care of Bambi by giving her his condo. Michelle’s husband also lent money to Rachel, so they could adopt a child from China.
Meanwhile, Julie died 10 years after Felix’s disappearance. When Felix left, she kept herself busy with managing the coffee shop he left her. She made sure she’s always busy, so she wouldn’t think much about Felix She became successful with her businesses that Bambi and her daughters even read an article about her.
Sandy, a retired detective, has reopened the case and is working on it. He discovered a few things, and it led him to Bambi, and the 2nd daughter, Rachel. According to his findings, this is what happened:
After reading about the article about Julie’s success, Rachel got angry, since they thought that Julie took the money that was meant for them. Rachel insulted Julie, accused her of taking the money. To make it worse, Rachel lied and told Bambi that Felix is still in contact with Bambi and their daughters. This bothered Julie.
Days after being confronted by Rachel – Julie received a message from Felix, telling her to meet her. Julie was ecstatic, since she thought Felix has chosen her instead of Bambi. She decided to give her a visit and let her know that Felix has asked to see her. When she knocked at their house, it was Rachel who answered. Bambi wasn’t there. They ended up in a fight where Rachel hurt Julie, but not severely. She bled a little and an earing fell off. Julie cleaned up, Rachel even apologized. Julie just insisted that she would get new clothes on her way to meet Felix.
Sandy found a receipt of an earing being sold – just 1, since the other one was found along with Julie’s body. After knowing that this was found by the detectives, Bambi immediately confessed that she killed Julie, because she thought she was protecting Rachel. She thought it was Rachel who killed Julie in their home – and she was willing to take the blame. Rachel was the only one left at home around July 3, and she was also the one who gave her the money to pay off the mortgage. Bambi thought the money came from Julie. However, the detectives can see through her, they know she is lying. They brought Rachel in next, who asked Bert for help (Felix’s bestfriend, his lawyer, and a family friend who has been helping them ever sine Felix left).
When Rachel was questioned, she made it clear that she didn’t kill Julie. Julie did went to their house that day, and she admitted on hurting her because she was so angry and emotional – but she didn’t kill her. Julie left, on her way to meet Felix. She didn’t tell Bambi about this so it wouldn’t hurt for her to know that her husband has chosen the mistress. As for the money to pay for the mortgage – it was from Rachel’s mother in law, her first husband’s mother. She caught her first husband, Marc, cheating on her – and she negotiated with his mother. She asked money from his mother then divorced him. Rachel doesn’t know that Marc cheated on her with her sister, Michelle. Michelle told Bambi about this, and was advised that it will be best if Rachel never knows about this. After her divorce with Marc, Rachel had an abortion to make their break up final.
After the interrogation, Rachel was free to go, but Bambi is still in jail. Before signing her confession, Bambi asked for Bert, their lawyer. Bambi has made sense of something Bert said earlier – while she was taking the blame for Julie’s murder, Bert insisted that she has the perfect alibi – they were all at a party, celebrating his wife’s birthday. But she also remembered that the party was hurriedly prepared, and it was held days after the actual birthday – it was indeed an alibi, the party was for all of them to have an alibi.
Bert helped Felix escape, helped Julie get a passport so she could go with Felix, she was also there when Felix and Julie started their relationship. He was there when she met Felix – but she never saw him. She never noticed that Bert liked her, and that he was helping her not because he honors his friendship with Felix, but because he’s inlove with Bambi.. Truth was, Julie was instructed by Felix to take the money that was meant for Bambi and her daughters to Bert. Julie did as instructed, but Bert kept the money for himself, so Bambi would always need him.
Bert killed Julie because she confronted him about the money. When Rachel accused Julie of stealing the money, she decided to ask Bert since she did give the money to him. That was when Bert knew he had to silence her. He was the one who set up Julie to go to Saks to meet Felix. There was never really a message from Felix. Bert has hired someone to kill Julie in the meeting place as she waited.
Bert has confessed to the crime. He got 20 years in prison. Lorraine, Bert’s wife, remained friends with Bambi, but she doesn’t know that Bert did his crime because he likes Bambi. All she knows is it was done out of greed.
Life went on for Bambi and her daughters with their own families. They never got to see Felix again, but Bambi has this letter from Felix, a long time ago after he left – and Bambi reads it from time to time.
Meanwhile, Felix died alone in Manzanillo. He took his last breath alone, and the maid found his body the next day. A friend of Felix, a lawyer, insisted that his body will be cremated. The maid took the photos from Felix’s bedside and noted that it were to go with the body – the photos were of Bambi, their 3 daughters and a woman in her bra and panties (Julie).
The End After I’m Gone by Laura Lippman.
Finished reading on 18/12/2020