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By A Spider's Thread [Mass Market Paperback]

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

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Book Description

June 9 2005

Mark Rubin claims he and his beautiful wife had a flawless, happy marriage. Yet one day, without warning, Natalie gathered up their children and vanished. The police can't do anything because all the evidence indicates she left willingly. So the successful Baltimore furrier turns to private investigator Tess Monaghan.

Tess doesn't know quite what to make of her client, a wealthy Orthodox Jew who refuses to shake her hand and doles out vitally important information in grudging dribs and drabs. But the deeper she digs, the more Tess suspects that the motive behind Natalie's reckless flight lies somewhere in the gap between what Rubin will not say and what he refuses to believe. An intricate web of betrayal and vengeance is already beginning to unravel, as memory begets rage, and rage leads to desperation -- and murder. And suddenly the lives of three innocent children are dangling by the slenderest of threads.

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From Publishers Weekly

Tess Monaghan is back. After last year’s haunting standalone novel Every Secret Thing, Lippman returns with her eighth installment in an award-winning crime series. This time out the determined reporter-turned-private detective agrees to help a handsome but off-puttingly rigid Orthodox Jewish furrier Mark Ruben find his missing wife and children. Monaghan was recommended to the uptight furrier by her Jewish uncle, who spent years working with Ruben in a volunteer program that instructed Jewish prisoners in Jewish rituals and traditions. Ruben makes Monaghan feel as if she knows nothing about being Jewish, even though her mother’s family is Jewish. He also makes her feel as if she knows nothing about commitment. About the only thing that makes her like Ruben is the cash he’s willing to pay her up front. As weeks go by, Monaghan uncovers a tangle of lies and dark plans that reveal that Ruben’s gorgeous young Russian Jewish bride is anything but innocent. Yet much to Monaghan’s amazement, nothing seems to dim Ruben’s faith in his own tradition or to rock his sense of his role and responsibilities as a husband and a father. Lippman delivers a smart, fast-paced, nuanced story that features a well-drawn supporting cast, including the endearing if dangerous city of Baltimore itself. Lippman’s bad guys never become as interesting as her good guys, but there are some captivating touches here, including a criminal who studies the plots of crime novels in prison. Lippmann’s many fans will be thrilled.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.


“Both entertaining and unexpectedly touching. More Please.” (Baltimore Sun)

“Tess is feisty . . . And it is a joy to watch her come alive.” (Washington Times)

“A sense of place so unerring that it makes Baltimore everyone’s hometown.” (Kirkus Reviews)

“Laura Lippman in her series featuring Baltimore private investigator Tess Monaghan just keeps getting better and better.” (Houston Chronicle)

“Again, Yes! To Tess.” (Baltimore Sun)

“Compulsively readable” may be a cliché, but it’s a perfect description for this novel. (Toronto Globe and Mail)

“BY A SPIDER’S THREAD - arguably the most complex, moving novel in her Tess Monaghan detective series.” (Time Out New York)

“The fast-paced, intelligent story involves a maze of betrayal, surprises and a murder.” (Jewish Week)

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By "zx237"
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Following her triumphant venture into stand-alone suspense with Every Secret Thing, Laura Lippman returns to her award-winning Tess Monaghan mystery series.
Although private investigator Tess Monaghan hates matrimonial cases, she hates the idea of being bankrupt even more, so she agrees to look for Mark Rubin's missing family. As far as the police are concerned, there is no sign of foul play. Natalie Rubin simply took her three children and vanished. At first Tess is inclined to agree. While Mark can't imagine why Natalie wasn't happy as the wife of a wealthy furrier, Tess can see plenty of reasons why the woman might have found her marriage suffocating. Natalie had been married young, to a man 12 years her senior. Although her husband didn't limit his beautiful wife's spending, she was expected to account for every penny. And though she'd been raised a secular Jew, Mark admits that he wouldn't have married her if she hadn't agreed to embrace the tenets of Orthodoxy.
As Tess digs deeper into the circumstances surrounding Natalie's disappearance, she discovers that Mark has concealed many things, including the fact that he met Natalie while volunteering as a visitor in the prison where Natalie's father is still serving out a sentence for murder -- and that Natalie has been blackmailed by her father in the past. Battling her client for the information she desperately needs, Tess has two allies: an online network of women investigators and Mark's nine-year-old son, who is determined to reunite his family. But even Mark doesn't know that painful secrets he's concealed about his own family are about to explode violently. By a Spider's Thread is a very strong book with no holds barred when it comes to plot or emotion. Enjoy.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Stunning! July 18 2004
Laura Lippman's eighth Tess Monaghan novel, "By A Spider's Thread" is a provocative, savvy, challenging thriller.
Precise plotting, an economical cast of realistic characters (some appealing, some detestable) and a plausible resolution make the pages disappear in a trice.
Mark Rubin, a wealthy Jewish furrier whose wife (Natalie) and three children have vanished, hires Tess to locate them.
Mark and Tess get off to a rocky beginning as Mark withholds information about his family and omits details about contacts that could illuminate Tess's search.
Tess is resourceful and they gradually warm to one another. As Tess learns more about Mark's family, marriage and religious identity, the reasons for Natalie's disappearance start to materialize.
Family secrets underlie the plot and provide the motive for the mastermind behind the disappearance.
The story is told from multiple points of view...that of Tess and the parallel view from the observant and bright eldest child.
This works and leaves enough blanks to fill in to keep you guessing and on your toes.
Laura Lippman is masterful at filling in the pertinent background with the backwards and forwards story telling.
Equally important is the way she builds the tension, suspense and impact with character development rather than gratuitous violence.
The multilayered, absorbing narrative has enormous momentum and clever details.
Easily the best in the Tess Monaghan series and a powerful follow-up to last year's spectacular "Every Secret Thing."
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5.0 out of 5 stars Don't miss this book July 1 2004
Laura Lippman has been a favorite of mine since I read BALTIMORE BLUES and as few other writers have done, she gets better with each book. I was blown away by EVERY SECRET THING and am amazed that I felt that the latest in her Tess Monaghan series could only be described as "brilliant." Her changing POVs and the layer that unfold about the missing wife and children keep one reading with rapt attention.
Am not sure where "mctmjc" got her completely wrong information about BY A SPIDER'S THREAD being only the second book Lippman wrote by herself. But it is completely erroneous. But then many reviews..especially those that originate from online sites are.
It seems to me that "mctmjc" is not really a mystery fan, at least according to the list of books she has reviewed.
I am and KNOW Lippman has written all nine of her books by herself....unless, of course, you count her "muse."
Great characterization, great plotting and edge-of-your-seat suspense...what more can anyone ask?
Even if you have never read another Tess book, you should find this a compelling and most satisfactory book...and well worth the money. I again repeat the word, "brilliant."
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5.0 out of 5 stars fascinating thriller June 30 2004
Baltimore private detective Tess Monaghan is overjoyed when she lands a wealthy client for her fledging business that is usually in need of survival funds. Mark Rubin, a modern orthodox Jew, wants Tess to find his wife and three children who disappeared without a word or a trace. Their disappearance comes as a shock to the grieving man who believes he had the perfect marriage and his wife Natalie had everything a woman could want.
Natalie never loved Mark; she waited for Zeke to get out of prison so they could be together. He was the one who arranged her marriage to Mark and he had a plan that would make them rich after he got out of jail. Natalie is not the innocent her husband thinks she is and she will go to extraordinary lengths to get what she wants. The more Tess learns about her the more she realizes that Natalie, knowingly or unwilling, has put her husband in danger from Zeke. She has a tough time convincing Mark that his angel in reality is a devil in disguise.
Laura Lippman always delivers a fascinating thriller but BY A SPIDER'S THREAD is her best Tess Monaghan work to date. The protagonist is a tough independent woman who is kindhearted even if she is afraid to make a commitment to the man she loves. Getting to know Zeke and Natalie, two people who look so good on the outside yet so ugly inside is a fascinating experience in a creepy sort of way. Tess does for Baltimore what Spenser does for Boston.
Harriet Klausner
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