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In a Strange City [Mass Market Paperback]

Laura Lippman
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)

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First Sentence
HE BEGINS ON JANUARY 1, ALWAYS JANUARY 1, PLAYing with his body's schedule until he is increasingly nocturnal, staying up until dawn. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A Fun, Smart Page-Turner Jan. 1 2003
'In a Strange City' is my first experience reading Laura Lippman, but I hope to have many more. You should too.
PI Tess Monaghan turns down a would-be client who wants her to unmask the "Poe Toaster," a mysterious person who visits Edgar Allan Poe's gravesite each year with three roses and half a bottle of cognac. Although she refuses to take the case, Tess can't help being curious. On the anniversary of Poe's death, Tess expects to stand at a distance and see a strange caped individual visit the cold Baltimore grave site. But she sees two caped figures. One dies from a bullet, the other escapes. Then things get really creepy when Tess receives cryptic notes at her door...along with three roses and a half bottle of cognac.
'In a Strange City' is a pleasure to read because it works on so many levels. Lippman writes a very smart tale with wonderful descriptions of Baltimore and its people, but that's only part of what makes the book work. She not only knows how to write great characters, she also pens believable dialogue. Her examination of Poe devotees and collectors is nothing short of fascinating. Many excellent mystery writers are capable of presenting readers with an entertaining, intriguing story, but Lippman takes it a step further. When I closed the book, I knew I had finished a great story, but I also knew that I was going to be forced to examine the possessions I cherish and ask myself how far I would go to protect them?
A very satisfying read - 310 pages
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5.0 out of 5 stars Poe's Visitor and the Gold Bug Oct. 28 2002
"These our actors, as I foretold you, were all spirits, and are melted into air, into thin air..." (from Shakespeare's "The Tempest"). This is one of the best mysteries I have read in recent years. It is an intriguing tale that revolves around the mysterious Visitor to Poe's grave who, every year, leaves three red roses and a half bottle of cognac. It is January 19. Baltimore private investigator Tess Monaghan and her boyfriend, Crow, are among the spectators keeping watch at Poe's grave. A cloaked figure appears, and then another. A shot is fired and a cloaked figure falls, mortally wounded. The second cloaked figure escapes in the commotion, fading into the shadows.
The case becomes complicated. There are people trying to identify and find the visitor for personal agendas. There are charges that the murder was a hate crime - the victim identified as a ... waiter. Tess is drawn into the case, willing or not, because other players think she may have information. Mysterious notes appear, along with roses or rose petals, from an unknown individual attempting to enlist her aid. There are questions about thefts of rare books and memorabilia. And there is collateral damage.
Along the way there are tidbits of information about Baltimore, and about Edgar Allan Poe including a pertinent poem ("From childhood's hour I have not been As others were; I have not seen As others saw; I could not bring My passions from a common spring." - from Poe's "Alone"). The case gradually unfolds as information develops about various players. Some people become unlikely allies, and relationships between people are revealed as the case is solved. Tess becomes the guardian of another dog, a friendly doberman named Miata.
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4.0 out of 5 stars This is what PI fiction is about..... Jan. 27 2002
Laura Lippman's Tess Monaghan is truly one of the most appealing and original PI protagonist to have appeared in last few years. She is not a self assured repository of cliches, but a three dimensional person, occasionally irritating but always interesting and sympathetic. WIth this book, Lippman's sixth in the series, the Monaghan series rises to it's full potential as one of the premiere PI series of the last decade.
In A Strange City opens up with a scene that harkens back to a Hammett or Chandler novel: a grotesquely overweight man hires Monaghan to follow a man to recover a necklace he says was stolen from him. Seems pretty straightforward, except for the fact that the man he wants her to follow is a local Baltimore legend known as the "Poe Visitor", a cloaked figure who lays a tribute of roses and cognac at the grave of Edgar Allen Poe at the anniversary of his death.
Of course things quickly go haywire as Monaghan is thrust into a murky plot which includes fanatical bibliofiles, an antagonistic homicide detective and a series of assaults and burglaries that seem to target gay men. It's a murky stew, but it's actually quite an original plot and Lippman's prose makes it seem perfectly clear and convincing.
The best part of this series (indeed, the best part of all detective fiction) is the sense of place and setting which brings the city of Baltimore true to life. The only thing I knew about Baltimore came from episodes of "Homicide:Life on the Streets"("The Best Damn Show on TV"). But reading this series makes me seem like I've been living there for years.
I gave this book less than five stars (Four and a half, really, but I can't give half ratings) because I spotted the killer fairly easily. But that really doesn't take from the book. After all, the best part of detective fiction is not who killed who. It's the journey that counts.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A UNIQUE AND COMPELLING READ Oct. 27 2001
By Gail Cooke TOP 50 REVIEWER
Crime writer Laura Lippman, the winner of every important mystery award (an Edgar, a Shamus, an Anthony, and an Agatha), now pays tribute to the man many consider to be the world's premier mystery writer - Edgar Allen Poe. "In A Strange City," Lippman's sixth novel to feature PI Tess Monaghan is set in Baltimore where in the predawn hours of every January 19th, the anniversary of Poe's birthday, a coterie of the famed author's fans wait to see a mysterious visitor who comes to Poe's tomb bearing 3 blood red roses and a bottle of cognac.
This year, Tess is among those waiting for a glimpse of the mysterious "Poe Visitor." She is surprised to see not one but two cloaked men carrying the appropriate tributes; she is even more surprised to see one murdered as the other escapes into the semi-darkness.
Bobby Hilliard, a 28-year-old gay waiter is the victim. The senseless beating of another gay man some days earlier and Hilliard's death arouse the local gay and lesbian rights group headed by Tess's former friend attorney Cecelia Cesnik. The group insists that a maniacal homophobe is running amok.
Tess soon finds herself enmeshed in a multi-layered swirl of events pulling her in opposite directions. Hammered on by the chief detective who thinks she knows more than she's telling, our heroine is also stalked by an unknown person who leaves cognac and three red roses by her front door.
There's more than mere murder here as Tess suspects a complicated scheme involving priceless antiques and other black marketables begins to emerge.
Ms. Lippman has laced her latest thriller with strains of greed and homophobia, and included such Poe-isms as a victim buried alive and a ticking clock. It makes for a unique and compelling read.
- Gail Cooke
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Can't wait for the next one!
SOOOOO good, I can't wait until October. If Lippman could put out a book weekly, I still wouldn't be able to wait for the next installment of Tess Monaghan's adventures! Read more
Published on July 27 2002 by Mary-Elissa Tomecek
3.0 out of 5 stars I Wish I Could Give It More Stars......
After long awaiting Laura Lippman's next book in the Tess series, I was slightly disappointed with IN A STRANGE CITY. Read more
Published on March 31 2002 by "nascarbet"
5.0 out of 5 stars Librarians, Maryland and Poe-- PERFECT!!
What a sweet combination of Maryland moments, wacky bibliophiles and morose, mysterious Poe! Lara Lippman's settings are wonderful; how I long to wander the streets with Tess,... Read more
Published on Dec 6 2001 by go2yourlibrary
5.0 out of 5 stars Better and better!
A multiple award winner, Laura Lippman continues to show us her best in "In a Strange City". Read more
Published on Oct. 15 2001 by Maria Y. Lima
5.0 out of 5 stars A not-to-be missed novel
Just when one thinks that Laura Lippman has hit her peak (as in "Sugar House"), she surprises the reader by going up a couple of more notches and she started out on a... Read more
Published on Sept. 11 2001 by Doris Ann Norris
5.0 out of 5 stars LIPPMAN'S TOAST TO POE
As a mystery writer with my debut novel in its initial release, I genuinely enjoyed Laura Lippman's toast to our genre's founder, Edgar Allan Poe. Read more
Published on Sept. 10 2001 by Kent Braithwaite
5.0 out of 5 stars Kennedy Dust In your Eyes
From the start Laura Lippman tries to trip up her readers by flicking a little Kennedy dust in their eyes. Read more
Published on Sept. 7 2001 by John O. Bronson
5.0 out of 5 stars I can't wait to read it!
I'm anxiously awaiting the arrival of this book in my mailbox! I must say, however, that the Booklist review is incorrect. This is not Laura Lippman's second Tess Monaghan book. Read more
Published on Sept. 5 2001 by G. M. Morse
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