HarperCollins: 11/29/2011 (reissue)
eBook, 304 pages
Tess Monaghan Series #1
In a city where someone is murdered almost every day, attorney Michael Abramowitz’s death should be just another statistic. But the slain lawyer’s notoriety—and his taste for illicit midday trysts—make the case front-page news in every local paper except the Star, which crashed and burned before Abramowitz did. A former Star reporter who knows every inch of this town—from historic Fort McHenry to the crumbling projects of Cherry Hill—now unemployed journalist Tess Monaghan also knows the guy the cops like for the killing: cuckolded fiancé Darryl “Rock” Paxton. The time is ripe for a career move, so when rowing buddy Rock wants to hire her to do some unorthodox snooping to help clear his name, Tess agrees. But there are lethal secrets hiding in the Charm City shadows. And Tess’ own name could end up on that ever-expanding list of Baltimore dead.
Set in Baltimore in the 90's, Tess is a 29 year old young woman at loose ends. She is an ex-newspaper reporter who has been downsized due to the closing of the Star, the paper she wrote for. Now she has to make due with two part time jobs that she has based more on the benevolence of her extended family than anything else. She is working at and living above her Aunt Kitty's bookstore while she keeps busy following a physically demanding schedule of her own design. "This was Tess’s routine, her only routine since the Star had been shuttered. Six days a week she rowed in the morning and ran in the evening. Three times a week she lifted weights in an old-fashioned boxing gym in East Baltimore. On the seventh day, she rested..."(page 4)
When her friend and rowing buddy, Darryl "Rock" Paxton, asked her to follow his girlfriend, Ava, for a price, she acquiesces and begins watching the disagreeable young lawyer. She discovers that Ava is likely involved in several questionable activities and brings her discoveries to Rock. Right after this, Michael Abramowitz, a high profile lawyer at Ava's firm, is found dead and Rock is the suspect. Tess knows he is innocent, because Rock says so, but are Ava's constantly changing stories indicative of her role in the murder or is there some clue everyone is missing?
Tess is hired as a part of the defense team as a glorified gopher but she starts to look into the life of Abramowitz in order to discover who really murdered the lawyer. Soon things become more heated as more questions are raised and leads followed.
Originally published in 1997, Baltimore Blues is not only the first Tess Monaghan novel, is also Lippman's impressive debut novel. While I thought it got off to a slow, but pleasant start, it really takes about half way through and the pages just flew by. I liked the twisty revelations and the surprises the plot contained. Tess is a mouthy, feisty, likeable protagonist, one you will cheer on, even when you know she is making poor choices. The city of Baltimore is also a major character in Baltimore Blues.
Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher and TLC for review purposes.
Since her debut in 1997, Laura Lippman has been heralded for her thoughtful, timely crime novels set in her beloved hometown of Baltimore. She is the author of twenty works of fiction, including eleven Tess Monaghan mysteries. She lives in Baltimore, New Orleans, and New York City with her family.
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