Sunday, May 9, 2010

Review #64: Baltimore Blues by Laura Lippman

Title: Baltimore Blues
Author: Laura Lippman
Publisher: Avon
Genre: Mystery
Format: Own copy
ISBN: 978-0-380-78875-0
Price/Pages: $7.99/290
Series: Tess Monaghan Novels-Book 1

My Description:

Tess is a 29 year old Baltimore native, recently laid off from one of the few remaining newspapers in the city. She now spends her time working part-time for her Aunt at her Women and Children's bookstore and for her uncle at the Department of Fraud and Waste. Exciting huh? She doesn't think so but something's got to fill her time until she figures out the next step.
What she enjoys most is rowing on the river with her pal, Rock, a beefy exercise junkie who's known Tess from her early newspaper days.

One morning, after one of their rowing routines, Rock asks for her help. Turns out his fiance, Ava (whom Tess never really liked) is acting strange and distant. Rock hires Tess to investigate and follow her. Tess, in need of money and not wanting to turn her pal down, accepts. Unfortunately she has never been a P.I and Rock seems to think her past as a reporter will do just fine??
Tess, unsure of where this will take her, begins spying on Ava, quite poorly at times. What she doesn't see coming is a murder and an incredibly tangled investigation that puts Rock in danger.

My Review:

I have never read Laura Lippman. My friend Cheryl has been reading her later stand alone mysteries and really likes them. She mentioned she was going to start this series and it intrigued me. I picked up the whole Kay Scarpetta series by Patricia Cornwell a few weeks back during the book sale and I was going to start on those.
I was kind of itching for a new series to discover. This one may be it!

This started out really good. It reminded me of very early Sue Grafton. It is set in the 90s, before a lot of technology; Tess has a walkman, no cell phone, computer disks, etc. I like that because I can relate to that world much more than I can with the craziness today.

Tess is also a really raw, rough around the edges character. She is good looking but she doesn't show it off. She is incredibly educated with an English major so she quotes books all the time. She is a really bad liar while investigating but still continues to spin these elaborate stories that just make you laugh. She's also digs drinking, having rolls in the hay with an on and off again lover and smoking a joint every now and then.

I really got a kick out of her. On Laura Lippman's website, she apolojizes for how wacky Tess is in this first book. She promises she gets better in later novels.
Really Tess is all over the place in her investigating. The case she starts off working bursts wide open and she ends up embedded in quite a bit of lies. And she fumbles through it, sticking her nose in where it doesn't belong, putting her butt on line, and asking waaaay too many questions.

I will definitely continue reading these. I want to see how Tess grows. I want to continue reading about Baltimore, the place in which these take place. I want to learn more about her quirky side characters; her Aunt, her parents, the part-time twentysomething bookseller Crow who is in love with her, and her buddy Rock.

Rating: 5 stars/6 stars
This is an honest to god mystery filled with detailed character sketches, locations, and investigative work. If you are a fan of early Sue Grafton, Robert Parker, and Denis Lehane you will like this. The big charm is her ties to Baltimore and how the city becomes such a big character in the book.

Happy Reading and as always, thanks for stopping by.

red headed book child


Caroline said...

Great review Michelle !
(And I love your header!)
I have never heard of Laura Lippman but your review makes the character of Tess such an interesting woman to read about !
Have a good day/evening!



Celticlady's Reviews said...

I have not read any Laura Lippman either but it sounds like my kind of the review!! Happy Mothers Day Michelle!!!!

Staci said...

Early Grafton?? I'm in!! I was hooked on Scarpetta until book 5...then IMHO..Cornwell sold her soul to the publishing gods! I've ditched her and picked up Karin Slaughter..she's phenomenal!! I just may have to read one of these!

Jenny said...

Hm, I haven't read anything by her either. Starting a new series is such a commitment though, lol!! I actually get frustrated with books that far back because it's difficult for me to relate to/remember not having cell phones and all that, lol.

Tales of Whimsy said...

Great review :)

Jenners said...

Thanks for not saying "Stephanie Plum" or I would have immediately been turned off. (Though they sound like they share some similar attributes perhaps in their inexperience).

I have one of Lippman's stand alone books to try out as I've heard a lot of good stuff about her.

And I'm always looking for a new wonderful series ... it is like hitting the jackpot when you find one.

Stacy at The Novel Life said...

what a cool review! I even think i have some of her books hiding away in my book room stacked in the boxes! what a scary thought! I should take a picture to show everyone....nope, on second thought you'd never speak to me again! there all my books saving for my bookstore...i'll have to go on a hunt! she sounds fun!