In Big Trouble is the 4th book in the Tess Monaghan detective series. Tess, a Baltimore private investigator, receives a newspaper clipping in the mail showing a picture of her former boyfriend Crow under the headline “In Big Trouble.” She checks with Crow’s parents, and they affirm he is missing. They hire Tess to go to Texas to find him. In San Antonio, she gets involved in a complicated but interesting web of murder and revenge involving one of Crow’s band members, the ethereal looking Emmie.
In addition to the mystery plot, it is very entertaining to follow Tess’s explorations of San Antonio along with her comparisons to Baltimore. The slipped-in travelogue is one of Lippman’s strengths, as is Tess’s humor and sarcasm. Tess is impulsive, emotional, a sort-of-recovering food abuser, doesn’t do “tact” or “chit-chat,” can’t let unsolved mysteries lie, is very funny, and is fiercely loyal to friends and family.
Evaluation: The more I get to know Tess and her family and friends, the more I like them. This is a series I’ll want to keep following. This book won the Anthony and Shamus awards, and was nominated for the Edgar and Agatha awards.
Published by Avon, 1999