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Last Place [Mass Market Paperback]

L Lippman
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Aug. 7 2003

Five lives in the Baltimore area have been brutally destroyed over the past six years -- five unsolved homicides, seemingly unconnected except for the suspicion that each death was the result of domestic violence. In hot legal water -- and court-ordered therapy -- Tess Monaghan accepts an assignment with a local nonprofit organization, agreeing to review police documents on each case for inconsistencies and investigative blunders. But curiosity is leading the disgraced P.I. off the paper trail as she follows scant leads and intuitions into the most remote corners of Maryland -- where a psychopath can hide as easily in the fabric of a tiny fishing community as in the alleys and shadows of Charm City. Because a single common thread to five senseless murders is beginning to emerge with shocking clarity to tie the loose ends together into one bloody knot -- and the link is Tess Monaghan herself.


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From Amazon

Baltimore PI Tess Monaghan knows what to do with a jerk who prowls the Internet looking for love in all the wrong places: pretend to be smitten, slip one of his own date-rape drugs into his drink, cover him with depilatory cream, and leave him in a public place so he'll be too ashamed to do it again. It's hard to follow an opening chapter like that, but Lippman manages it nicely, putting her smart-mouth series sleuth in court-ordered anger-management counseling. The sessions with her shrink spur a most uncharacteristic—-for Tess--reflection on five cold-case homicides she's investigating for a foundation lobbying for increased funding for domestic abuse programs. They don't seem to be connected, but with the help of the retired Toll Facilities cop who discovered the head of one of the victims in the middle of his bridge, Tess discovers a serial killer no one even knew existed--until he made Tess his next target. This is the seventh outing in a lively, original series that keeps getting better and better. --Jane Adams --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Favors for friends don't always turn out as expected, Tess Monagham learns in this harrowing encounter with obsession involving her own past. At the urging of best friend Whitney Talbot, Tess agrees to research how police inexperienced with murder cases handle domestic-violence-related investigations. Delving into the specifics of the five deaths she's been assigned, Tess begins to sense that a simple review of the facts won't suffice and that these aren't isolated incidents. Toll-facility cop Carl Dewitt, who found one victim's head on the roadway of a bridge and has become obsessed with that case, convinces her that his detailed knowledge and tenacity can help. The pair cover a lot of ground, from northern Maryland to Virginia, from Baltimore to the Eastern Shore to a remote island where simple beauty can't sustain young people and the aging population keeps its secrets. In the process, Tess confronts some old demons, including a figure who has watched for years as she rows alone in Baltimore Harbor. He knows all about her and is biding his time. Lippman narrows her circle, drawing predator and victim closer. She contrasts the methods of the privileged with the ways ordinary folk must cope and how disastrous the results can be when the monstrous invades their lives.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

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4.0 out of 5 stars Character, action and puzzle together Jan. 27 2004
Format:Hardcover
It started out as a routine investigation for Baltimore private investigator Tess Monaghan. A nonprofit group hired her to look into several small-town unsolved murders as part of a study to determine whether the police had done a good job, and whether domestic violence was at the root. But soon she discovered something unexpected--a link between two of the cases, which were supposedly chosen at random.
Tess meets up with an unlikely ally--a former Toll Facilities cop, Carl Dewitt, who is obsessed with one of the murders. When they compare notes, they realize they're dealing with an extraordinarily clever serial killer--and that Tess is his real target, but for an unknown reason.
As Tess and Carl investigate, sometimes cooperating with the state police, sometimes defying it, they start to realize that they're following a script only the killer knows, and he's always one step ahead of them. As she struggles with the fear and the mind games, Tess is also battling her own demons, forced on her by a court-ordered anger-management psychiatrist.
Author Laura Lippman's novel has that rare combination of character, action, intellectual puzzle and flashes of humor that blend for a first-rate mystery. This is not a feel-good book, though. It made me a little sad.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A Mystery With a Mystery April 28 2003
Format:Hardcover
From the beginning page you are introduced to the killer and the knowledge that he is watching someone again stays in the front of your mind as you get to know him better. His history and his thoughts are sprinkled throughout the book and lead you to "The Last Place."
Tess is a private investigator with a past that haunts her. Her ex-boyfriend was killed years prior and she continues to suffer from occasional nightmares, reliving his death.
She has issues with anger management, which are portrayed quite well when she gets a little revenge on a potential child molester. She is arrested and sentenced to anger management counseling.
Tess's wealthy friend, Whitney, offers her a private investigator assignment which involves reviewing old, unsolved domestic abuse murder cases in order to help bring about lobbying for funding and training for small town cops handling domestic abuse situations. Whitney is part of a group of several non profit foundations that have joined together and are in search of ways to reduce the number of domestic-violence homicides in their state. Though Tess's old archenemy, Luisa O'Neal, is somewhat involved in the group, Tess accepts the assignment with the understanding that Luisa is not an active member of the board.
There is a list of five unsolved cases for Tess to investigate. She was not hired to search for the killer but rather to check into the specifics of the police investigations on each file.
Initially, the cases do not seem connected but then Tess begins to question whether or not they are in some way. She always begins to wonder if Luisa O'Neal had more involvement in this project than Tess was told about, or anyone was told, for that matter. Soon Tess is questioning everything and everyone looking for the link.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Bodies and no Clue April 24 2003
Format:Hardcover
Tess Monaghan (very poor) is a private investigator who is hired by her best friend Whitney Talbot (very rich). She is asked to work for a consortium that concerns itself with domestic violence. Tess is given six names of persons who have been killed in the last six years. None of the killings were solved. Tess is to find out if law enforcement did a sloppy - and presumably prejudiced - job.
So Tess goes to work, interrupting it only shortly to spend time with her boyfriend Crow. At first, nothing outrageous happens. She then teams up with retired Toll Road Police Officer Carl Dewitt.
The story is interrupted occasionally by the voice of the killer.
There just is no substitute for that vision thing when you want to reach conclusions that are not based on any known fact. And what is missing here is the kitchen sink. But then the author got a big medal from the mayor of Baltimore for writing so much about his city.
And the perpetrator became a mass murderer because he used to love Tess Monaghan. Go figure.
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Format:Hardcover
Tess Monaghan is in her seventh book and she's in trouble from page one --- but her creator Laura Lippman isn't. Lippman is an author in full control of her characters, her story and her craft. As a lifelong mystery-lover, I get a certain feeling when I crack open a book like this and can immediately sense that I'm in good, sure hands with the author. I relax into that fictional world and let go, secure in the knowledge that I'll be taken places I've never been before, probably wouldn't have the courage to go alone and will return enriched by the experience. THE LAST PLACE is that kind of book.
So Tess gets arrested and goes before a judge. It is a kind of vigilante-justice situation, where her "victim" was more wrong than she. Still, Tess is sentenced to a six-month course in anger management with a shrink. These therapy sessions run in counterpoint to the main plot, a sort of ongoing character commentary that could easily have been overdone. A lesser author wouldn't have been able to resist. But for Lippman it's simply there, a part of this private investigator's life. For Tess, it is certainly not the most important part and insights are noted, tucked away in case they're needed later. She grows but it's no big deal --- she just keeps on keeping on.
That first bad guy --- the one who managed to turn himself into a victim --- may have been merely a nuisance, but there's a real sicko out there. In fact, some of the most outstanding writing in THE LAST PLACE is in sections that show us his view of the world. It's warped but atmospheric; he's twisted, poisoned by longing --- and the object of his longing is Tess Monaghan. She will not know this until very late in the book, but we know and we fear for her.
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