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on June 29, 2004
By a Spider's Thread was not as suspenseful as I would've hoped for. I found the book to be very formulated and almost a soap opera story line.
The story line was weak and predictable. My favorite part of the book was the Snoop Sisters. I did not have the feeling in the last 100 pages that there was no way the story could wrap up w/in that page timing and the urge to shut out my household so I could finish. I did find myself hunting through my bookshelves wondering what I could read next that would blow me away. I dreaded having to finish this book because I felt it was taking my time away from a better read.
On the flip side I did learn a lot about Orthodox Jews.
I am curious about here early works; being that this is the second book she's written alone. I'm in no rush.
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on 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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on 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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on February 27, 2006
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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on 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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on February 28, 2017
From the publisher: When successful Baltimore furrier Mark Rubin’s beautiful wife, Natalie, disappears with their three children, the police turn him away, noting that all evidence indicates she left willingly. And there’s no crime in walking out on an unhappy marriage. Private detective Tess Monaghan is his only hope, but Tess isn’t quite sure what she can do for Mark. She also doesn’t know what to make of her new client’s claim that he and Natalie were the model for wedded bliss. Tess’s instincts tell her there’s something off about Mark’s picture-perfect view of his marriage - - and that he’s withholding information from her. After Tess puts the word out to her network of fellow investigators around the country, she soon locates Natalie and the children. It appears they’ve been traveling from state to state in the company of a mysterious man - - a stranger described by witnesses as “handsome” and “charming” but otherwise unremarkable. As Tess investigates further, she becomes more convinced that Natalie’s motive for running away lies in the gap between what Rubin will not say and what he refuses to believe. But when murder strikes, Tess finds herself involved in an intricate web of betrayal and vengeance - - and now there’s more than one man’s stubborn pride in peril. The lives of three innocent children hang in the balance.

Having loved this author’s In a Strange City, published in May of 2016, I have been catching up on her other books that I’d not yet had a chance to read. This is the 8th of what is now 12 in the series, and it is every bit as good as its predecessor novels. Tess, now 33, is a former reporter and now private investigator. When Mark Rubin hires Tess, the first thing about him of which she becomes aware is that he is an observant Jew, Modern Orthodox, as opposed to Hasidic. Tess herself is half-Jewish – her mother’s name being Weinstein - and half Irish, and had “opted for being a nonobservant Jewish Catholic who believes in Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny but can hang with the bitter-herb crowd at a seder.” As to Mark, after his father’s death, he became somewhat less observant, when his half-brother, Zeke, came into his and his mother’s lives. Tess sees reflections of herself in Natalie: “the way she saw it, a girl just couldn’t win. You either talked too much or too little. There was denial, that old river in Egypt.”

Tess’ long-time boyfriend, Crow, is not on the scene in this entry, and their relationship appears to be in some doubt. For company she has their greyhound, Esskay, and Miata,”the world’s most docile Doberman.” I loved the “Snoop Sisters,” Tess’ “virtual clan,” who give her “that rarest combination of friendly commiseration - - pure empathy and no advice.” Interesting tale, with just the right amount of suspense, and it is recommended. Looking forward to catching up with the others!
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