Review of “Baltimore Blues” by Laura Lippman

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!

Rating: 3.5/5

Published by Avon Books, 1997

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15 Responses to Review of “Baltimore Blues” by Laura Lippman

  1. i generally enjoy this author, but believe it or not have never heard of this one? Thanks for sharing with us.

  2. Sandy says:

    More Lippman! Well, based on her most recent book, Tess figures out what to do next…have a baby! I’m intrigued with the series. One of these days, when I’m looking to invest in a new one, I will most definitely head in this direction.

  3. Word Lily says:

    I enjoyed this one; I’m reading the 2nd Tess book, Charm City, right now!

  4. zibilee says:

    I really like Lippman’s standalone books, but haven’t investigated any in this series yet. I am glad to hear that this one met with success with you. I will have to think about giving it a try! Very nice review!

  5. I’ve been meaning to start this series ever since I read reviews of The Girl in the Green Raincoat. I’m a little OCD about reading books in order so I think I’m going to have to check this out.

  6. bermudaonion says:

    It’s been a while since I’ve read a Tess Monaghan book, but I do enjoy the series.

  7. Rural View says:

    I read a later one in this series and loved it. Must read this first book.

  8. Julie P. says:

    I should follow in your footsteps and start this series. I am a big fan of Lippman’s stand alone novels.

  9. Jenners says:

    I’ve only read Lippman’s standalone books but hope to try these one day.

  10. Doret says:

    I’ve read all of Lippman’s mysteries and I love the Tess Monaghan series.

    I probably shouldn’t know this or at least I shouldn’t admit that I do but –

    Lippman is married to David Simon the creator of the HBO show The Wire,

    Director John Waters, performed the ceremony. And the only reason that’s halfway cool tidbit is because all three are very talented.

  11. Lisa says:

    I read a Lippman book last year (year before?) and it was just “good” for me but it sounds like maybe this is the way I need to approach her writing.

  12. Staci says:

    Is this book 1 in the Tess series??? I liked her character and was thinking of starting her books!

  13. if you read The Girl in the Green Raincoat, which can be read as a stand-a-lone, you will see that the interesting Crow comes to play a much bigger, and rather charming, role in Tess’s future.

  14. Margot says:

    I read an interview this week with Laura Lippman that made me write down her name for the next time I’m at the library. I want to start the series from the beginning. Looks like you are already doing that. Glad to hear you liked it.

  15. Pingback: Baltimore Blues by Laura Lippman | A Good Stopping Point

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