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Baltimore Blues (Tess Monaghan Mysteries) [Mass Market Paperback]

Laura Lippman
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)

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4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Charming Dec 22 2003
By M.A.
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I finished Laura Lippman's Baltimore Blues last night, and I was pleased with the overall story and its characters. In brief, Tess Monaghan is a former reporter, struggling to find employment when her rowing friend asks her to check up on his fiancee. Tess reluctantly accepts because she needs the money and because she cares for her friend. Unfortunately, Tess suspects that the fiancee is having an affair with her boss, a disreputable lawyer with a reputation for defending the scum of humanity... at least, before he's murdered. The prime suspect is Tess's friend, and now she's out to uncover the real killer.
The story is pretty straightforward with a fairly likable cast of supporting players. What really makes this book successful, however, is not the story or the characters, but rather the setting -- Baltimore, which becomes a character in it of itself. Lippman, a reporter for the Baltimore Sun and long-time resident of Charm City, clearly knows her territory, making full use of various known landmarks as well as unknown neighborhoods and traditions. It's a richly layered guide to Baltimore that only touches on the wealth that the city offers.
Ultimately, what really nagged me, though, was my own proximity to Baltimore. When I read other mysteries and the author takes great care bringing location into the story, I'm often impressed with the detail and character of those settings. As a writer, part of me often speculates -- are these real places or did the author make them up? Now, having read Baltimore Blues and dabbling in local color, I must confess that it's rather strange to read about places I've been to, or could get to within a half hour's drive. When Lippman actually mentions my own county, including a town not far from where I live, I had to pause and remind myself that Baltimore Blue was just fiction.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Starting point of a major crime novel series Sept. 3 2002
Format:Mass Market Paperback
This novel introduces Ms Lippman's Regular series heroine ,ex journalist Tess Monaghan,who since her former newspaper closed down has found herself scratching a precarious existence working for her Aunt Kitty,a bookstore owner,and doing some supernumery work on behalf of her Uncle Donald,work that unknown to her is not really required and is paid for by her uncle from his own pocket. She is close friends with The Rock,with whom she shares a passion for rowing,he being nationally ranked and she an enthusiastic amateur.They train together and enjoy a relaxed cameraderie.
He is engaged to a young lawyer,Ava,and is afraid that she is seeing another man.He asks Tess to follow her and report on her movements.She accepts reluctantly,being unable to refuse the money on offer.She finds that the poised and unlikeable Ava is a shoplifter and is seeing Michael Abromowitz,once a prominent public defender now a partner in the firm which employs her.
Abromowitz is murdered and suspicion falls upon The Rock .His lawyer ,another rowing fanatic,named Tyner, engages Tess to dig around in the case trying to uncover facts useful to his defence.She finds that Ava has spun a yarn to the Rock about being forced to sleep with Abramowitz and thus the Rock has motive enough
Aide by her socialite friend Whitney she delves into the case uncovering information about the personalities involved.She finds herself mired in the worlds of teenage sexual abuse and murder,and industrial compensation cases both involving Abramowitz .Others have valid motives for wishing him dead.
The case is unravelled smoothly and in addition to Tess there are likeable characters in plenty--Crow ,a bookstore clerk and wannabe musician,smitten by Tess,and Whitney,flambouyant and opinionated but with personality to spare.
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5.0 out of 5 stars thank you laura Sept. 23 2000
By Bruce
Format:Mass Market Paperback
i'm so glad i was given a copy of this book. as a native baltimoron, now living in san francisco, i was stoked to read such a wonderful mystery that takes places in and around real places i know and love in my home town. this book is just as wonderful for non-baltimorons. i must admit, the second in the series, "charm city", although quite good, did not live up to the first book. no worries, the following two, "butcher's hill" and "in big trouble", are amazing. i just received the newest in the series, "the sugar house" (i must be crazy about the series to actually blow the extra cash to buy it in had cover). i look forward to cruising through it on my upcoming flight to baltimore. thanks again laura. my only regret is that i'll never get to buy a cocktail for the extrordinary tess monahan during one of my occasional drunken evenings in fells's point or south balto.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Promising debut of a fun female sleuth Nov. 22 2000
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Five stars for atmosphere -- I've never been to Baltimore but Lippman provides a terrific sense of the place in this her debut novel. Tess Monaghan is a native of the city and gives many wonderful insights as she unravels the mystery of who killed a prominent attorney.
Four stars for characters -- Tess is a delight. She has much of the humor of Davidson's Goldy, Evanovich's Stephanie Plum or Grafton's Kinsey Milhone. I look forward to getting to know her better in further episodes. The supporting cast is very interesting also, particularly Tess' aunt Kitty who runs a feminist cum childrens bookstore.
Three stars for plot-- this one takes a while to get rolling. The final 100 pages are very promising. It took me awhile to sort everything out. A very good first effort.
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Most recent customer reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars OK but kind of depressing....
This is my first book by this author. It's the beginning of a series that features Tess Monagham, an unemployed journalist in Baltimore, who stumbles into private detective work... Read more
Published 14 months ago by Pat the cat
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Mystery Series
My friend turned me onto this series and I love it! If you are from the Maryland area, you will recognize a lot of the landmarks, but if you're not from the area you'll still love... Read more
Published on May 24 2004 by taralk
5.0 out of 5 stars Compelling and witty book
I really like this author's voice. She's witty and smart and just pulled me along to the end. I particularly like the way she brought baltimore alive.
Published on July 14 2003
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Trouble
This is another great book as a part of Tess Monagrham
Published on Jan. 29 2003 by Jack Salvant
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Discovery
I just "discovered" this author and I am fast becoming a die-hard fan. This is not the best book in the series, but it is a wonderful beginning and Tess only gets better. Read more
Published on Nov. 16 2002 by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Feels Like Baltimore
Having written a novel myself, "The Other Part Of Me", set in Howard County (just to the west of Baltimore) I was anxious to see if "Baltimore Blues" captured... Read more
Published on Oct. 15 2002 by Ronnie Kinsley
4.0 out of 5 stars an excellent first mystery novel
This book is well written - the characterizations are original, the description of Baltimore is interesting but not overdone, and the "whodunit" ending is suprising but... Read more
Published on July 20 2001 by Kristin Brown
4.0 out of 5 stars I found a new writer.
Saw this on TV (maybe sunday morning). Read it in 4 or 5 days - (when i should have been doing other things and was) - I look forward to the others and am off to buy charm city (... Read more
Published on Jan. 28 2000 by C. morrison
3.0 out of 5 stars A Good Initial Start
This is the first in a series featuring Tess Monaghan from Baltimore. I enjoyed the story line, however, became bored @ times with too many characters. Read more
Published on Nov. 28 1999 by "fogden"
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