In trying to prove a friend's innocence PI Tess Monaghan gets more than she bargained for ...Until her newspaper, The Baltimore Star, crashed, Tess Monaghan was a first-rate reporter who knew her home town intimately - from historic Fort McHenry to the crumbling projects of Cherry Hill. Now gainfully unemployed at 29 she's willing to do any ...
In trying to prove a friend's innocence PI Tess Monaghan gets more than she bargained for ...Until her newspaper, The Baltimore Star, crashed, Tess Monaghan was a first-rate reporter who knew her home town intimately - from historic Fort McHenry to the crumbling projects of Cherry Hill. Now gainfully unemployed at 29 she's willing to do any freelance job to pay the rent - including a bit of unorthodox snooping for her rowing buddy Darryl 'Rock' Paxton. In a city where someone is murdered almost every day, attorney Michael Abramowitz's death should be just another statistic. But the lawyer's notoriety, and his trysts with Rock's fiancee, make the case front page news - and make Rock the chief suspect ...
This is the opening salvo from a new voice in mystery novels (at least in 1997, when this was written) - Laura Lippman. She has created a newspaper-reporter-turned-sleuth character, Tess Monaghan. At 29, Tess seems to be drifting. Her comfortable world ended when the Baltimore newspaper she worked for folded and the Baltimore Light did not hire her.
She spends her time sculling (early mornings) and exercising (weights in the pm) most days. One day, a friend and fellow-sculler asks Tess to follow his fiancée and find out why she's upset. Having met the fabulous Ava before, Tess doesn't like her and cannot understand what Rock (the fiancée who has hired Tess) sees in this cold, self-centered, beautiful woman.
Tess starts following the woman; Ava's boss is murdered and Rock is accused of the crime. As Tess investigates, things get more complicated and another body falls.
This is a fairly complicated plot, with lots of red herrings. Considerable time is spent introducing the reader to the cast of characters who will return in future Tess novels. Our heroine, Tess, is an interesting character: She makes mistakes, is called `lazy' by some of her friends, but shows a flair for private investigative work. 4 stars
1. Baltimore Blues (1997)
2. Charm City (1997)
Publishers Weekly, 1996-12-30 Downsized ex-reporter Tess Monaghan spends her days working part-time at the bookstore owned by sexy Aunt Kitty and trying not to fall into the disgustingly polluted Patapsco from her city-owned boat. When rowing buddy Rocky pays her what looks like a fortune to follow his fianc?, the trail leads to murder with Rocky the prime suspect. "Uneven" is the word for this first novel-hometown and newspaper backgrounds are alive from page one, but characters are cartoons until chapter 15 (out of 30) when Tess investigates the victim. Suddenly the story perks up to a believable pageturner. If Lippman continues the promise of the second half of Baltimore Blues while adhering to advice attributed to Elmore Leonard to cut out the parts people won't read, mystery fans can anticipate an engrossing series. (Feb.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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