Laura Lippman is just not getting her due. When the bestseller shelves out there are plagued by hacks like Dan Brown and clones of his books, a great book like No Good Deeds is put on the New Hardback table for like a week then relegated to the shelf. Now, any self-respecting mystery fan doesn't even look at the bestseller wall or the New Hardback table. We go straight for the section and start browsing the shelf. Still, I would like to see Lippman reached by more than die-hard mystery fans.
She deserves to be read by everyone. And here's why:
1) Tess. As main characters go, she's a great heroine and a full-rounded character. This isn't some character (like Jack Ryan, for example) that's been in so many books that they've become rounded by no fault of the writer because they've had the guy do everything from analyst to Pope (joke there). Tess has been dynamic, exciting, puzzling, troubled, funny, and entertaining since the first book. It just happens that her characterization gets better with each book (we'll get to more of that later on).
2) Side characters. Like JK Rowling, Laura Lippman knows that readers love good side characters. Where would the Harry Potter books be without Ron and Hermione. Same can be said for Crow, Tyner, Kitty, Whitney (who I think I love a little), and other characters that I'm forgetting and I apologize. Laura gives us great, dynamic side characters to populate her world and they are a joy to come back to again and again. also, her addition of new characters in each book is great. Each character in No Good Deeds is spot on from the Feds to the eager-beaver district attorney to Lloyd.
3) Baltimore. Her city is the second main character. Like Lehane with Boston, Rankin with Edinburgh, and Pelecanos with DC, Baltimore is alive and well within her pages. As a true lover of the city, she brings Baltimore to you in all its highs and lows and its beauty and its ugliness. The city isn't just a setting but a living, breathing character. Also, she dives into the politics and the events that make a city a city. She isn't afraid to tell you what she thinks of what goes on in her city.
4) She Keeps Getting Better. Unlike other authors out there who we say, "Her/His first book was really good but the later ones just haven't been that great," Laura keeps getting better with each book. I thought By a Spider's Thread was the top of her game. In some ways for thrilling alone, it was. But No Good Deeds is even better in characterization and narrative thrust. This book starts and keeps cooking along, not wanting to let you go.
There. I've said why people should be reading Laura Lippman and not a lot of the crappy thrillers out there. I've said this before and I will keep on saying it, "Just because it's on the bestseller's list, doesn't mean it's good." Laura provides a great book every single damn time. Not every third book. No Good Deeds is a great book. Laura Lippman will not let you down.