Monday, November 21, 2016

The first Tess Monaghan

Laura Lippman has written a dozen Tess Monaghan mysteries. I had read a couple of them with pleasure, but I was eager to read the very first in the series, Baltimore Blues, published in 1997. It reveals how Tess, like Lippman herself a former Baltimore newspaper reporter, becomes a private investigator.

It's not by design. Having lost her reporting job when her newspaper folded, she works part-time in her Aunt Kitty's bookstore and looks around for a new job, maybe a new career. Then her workout buddy Rock offers to pay her to follow his girlfriend, Ava Hill, who has been acting strange lately. It seems like easy work, but Tess's efforts end up getting Rock accused of murdering a lawyer she suspects of having an affair with Ava. Then Rock's lawyer hires Tess to work for the defense team with some investigative work, to play Paul Drake to his Perry Mason.

Tess turns out to be a better detective than she thought at first, although still not good enough to actually solve the case until the killer, thinking she knows more than she actually does, comes after her.

Despite the ending, something of a cliche in detective fiction, Baltimore Blues makes enjoyable reading. The characters, especially Tess Monaghan, are vividly drawn, the story moves at a steady pace and the side stories actually add interest rather than seeming like filler. So I'm glad I sought out Baltimore Blues. Now I must find a copy of Charm City.

No comments:

Post a Comment