In this introduction to the Tess Monaghan detective series, we first meet twenty-nine-year-old Tess Monaghan, a laid-off newspaper reporter who hasn’t figured out what she wants to do next. She goes rowing every morning on the Baltimore’s Patapsco River and works part-time in her Aunt Kitty’s bookstore. When her rowing friend Rock hires Tess to see why his fiancé Ava is acting strange, Tess jumps at the chance for the extra income.
Unfortunately, it looks to Tess like Ava is seeing someone else on the side. Tess confronts Ava and goads her into confessing to Rock. When that same man is found dead later that night, Rock is the prime suspect. Tess hires on with another rower who is a lawyer, Tyner Gray, to help solve the case.
Need we say? Tess proves to be a little too good at her research, and soon her life is in danger as well.
Evaluation: I like the characters a lot in this book. Tess’s creative and sexy Aunt Kitty is a lot of fun, and one of the bookstore co-workers, a 23-year-old named “Crow” is a perfect sideman for Kitty and Tess. Tess herself is a little too much of a naïve risk-taker, and suffers from low self-esteem, but the first quality seems to be a sine qua non for female detectives, and the second humanizes Tess and draws us to her side. And being from Maryland, I love the Baltimore setting. I definitely plan to continue with this series!
Published by Avon Books, 1997