Friday, May 7, 2010


Baltimore Blues
Author: Laura Lippman
Publisher: Avon Books, Inc.
ISBN: 0-380-78875-6
Price: $5.99
pub. date: February, 1997
290 pages, paper

Review Author: Carl Brookins
This review was written some time ago, on the release of Laura Lippman's first Tess novel. Did the reviewer get it right in his prediction? What do you think of her career and later books?

One expects this author to become an important voice in the mystery genre. Lippman’s observant eye, her skill with the language, and her sense of pace and timing are all on exhibit here. If Tess Monaghan, ex-newspaper reporter, is not the most unusual lead character readers may have encountered, many of the other characters are unusual enough to satisfy our needs. Moreover, as a character that shines and sometimes dominates in these pages, the city of Baltimore is a star.

This excellent first mystery presents us with Tess’ buddy and fellow rower, Darryl Paxton, accused of the murder of a prominent Baltimore attorney. Out of work anyway, Tess agrees to help Paxton’s attorney build a defense. In her sometimes emotional and mistake-ridden efforts to help Paxton, Tess encounters several off-beat characters ranging through the many levels of Baltimore’s social structure. Some of them are ordinary, and some are fascinating, and some threatening.

Lippman writes with economy and verve, and if Monaghan spends a little too much time in internal dialogue, it’s a small price to pay to be present at the beginning of what will become a strong mystery series.

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