Thursday, March 12, 2015

Hush Hush

Hush Hush by Laura Lippman
HarperCollins: 2/24/2015
Advanced Readers Edition, 320 pages
Hardcover ISBN-13: 9780062083425
Tess Monaghan Series #12

Private detective Tess Monaghan is back in an absorbing mystery that plunges the new parent into a disturbing case involving murder and a manipulative mother.
On a searing August day, Melisandre Harris Dawes committed the unthinkable: she left her two-month-old daughter locked in a car while she sat nearby on the shores of the Patapsco River. Melisandre was found not guilty by reason of criminal insanity, although there was much skepticism about her mental state. Freed, she left the country, her husband and her two surviving children, determined to start over.
But now Melisandre has returned Baltimore to meet with her estranged teenage daughters and wants to film the reunion for a documentary. The problem is, she relinquished custody and her ex, now remarried, isn’t sure he approves.
Now that’s she’s a mother herself—short on time, patience—Tess Monaghan wants nothing to do with a woman crazy enough to have killed her own child. But her mentor and close friend Tyner Gray, Melisandre’s lawyer, has asked Tess and her new partner, retired Baltimore P.D. homicide detective Sandy Sanchez, to assess Melisandre’s security needs.
As a former reporter and private investigator, Tess tries to understand why other people break the rules and the law. Yet the imperious Melisandre is something far different from anyone she’s encountered. A decade ago, a judge ruled that Melisandre was beyond rational thought. But was she? Tess tries to ignore the discomfort she feels around the confident, manipulative Melisandre. But that gets tricky after Melisandre becomes a prime suspect in a murder.
Yet as her suspicions deepen, Tess realizes that just as she’s been scrutinizing Melisandre, a judgmental stalker has been watching her every move as well. . . .

My Thoughts:

Hush Hush by Laura Lippman is the highly recommended twelfth book in the series featuring P.I. Tess Monaghan. Tess is now dealing with juggling work, her relationship with Crow, and the logistics of having a three year old daughter, Carla Scout.

When Tess and her partner,  ex-homicide cop Sandy Sanchez, are asked to help with security by Tyner Gray, her mentor and an attorney who just happens to be married to Tess's Aunt Kitty, it is a given she will say yes. The client just happens to be the infamous Melisandre Harris Dawes. Twelve years earlier Melisandre left her infant daughter in a hot car to die. She was found not guilty by reason of insanity based on evidence that she was suffering from postpartum psychosis at the time. Melisandre left the USA, and her two young daughters in the custody of her ex-husband, Stephen, after her treatment was completed.

Now she has returned to Baltimore along with a documentary filmmaker, Harmony Burns. She commissioned the documentary ostensibly to examine the insanity defense, but in reality she is hoping to capture on film her reunion with her daughters, 17-year-old Alanna and 15-year-old Ruby. The trouble is her ex has remarried, has a new wife and a new infant, and is not interested in allowing the reunion to take place. She doesn't have a clue what her daughters might want. Included at various points within the narrative are several transcripts of Harmony's interviews for the documentary, so you can learn about Melisandre's past infamy and how that notoriety might affect her now.

Melisandre is an intensively disagreeable, haughty character who is used to getting her way and easy to dislike. Tyner seems to jump at her every summons and, strangely enough, she doesn't seem particularly interested in listening to any security measures Tess and Sandy suggest. Melisandre also seems to be manipulating almost everyone around her in some way, but, she also pays very well and Tess can use the income. Then, just as Melisandre starts receiving weird, vaguely threatening notes from a presumed stalker, Tess also starts receiving notes from an unknown source.

While working for Melisandre, Tess is struggling with the demands of being a mother of an active three year old. It is challenging to juggle work and motherhood and Tess doubts her ability to be a good mother. At the same time her relationship with Crow, while good, seems to have all sorts of new food rules now that Carla Scout is here. It is also challenging to do it all - work full time and care for a very active, rather obnoxious child. No wonder Tess questions her ability to do it all.

Lippman keeps the story moving along at a brisk pace, which make reading Hush Hush a pleasure. There isn't any filler here. While it's not an intense, action-packed thriller, it does cover the backstory and the current events without a wasted word. The novel is either covering the people and actions surrounding Melisandre or Tess. For those who don't know Tess or other returning characters, Lippman brings you up to speed quickly. It's not going to matter if this is your first Lippman book featuring Tess or your twelfth. I'm going to have to admit that I like this maturing Tess, who struggles with being a working mother, more than the Tess in earlier books.

Disclosure: I received an advanced reading copy of this book from HarperCollins for the TLC tour of reviews. 

Tour schedule

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I appreciate when a character develops in believable ways through the course of a series like Tess does here.

Thanks for being a part of the tour!