Although I was a bit disappointed with the previous book in the series featuring Baltimore Private Eye Tess Monaghan, I found this one much more satisfying.
Tess and Crow’s little girl, Carla Scout, is now three years old, and a bit of a handful. Still, although Tess often feels like a failure as a mother, as well as frustrated, hamstrung, and sometimes even bored, she can’t relate at all to mothers who intentionally kill their children.
When Tyner Gray, longtime friend and now relation-by-marriage, asks Tess and her work partner Sandy to help out with a new case he has involving one such mother, she reluctantly agrees because she could use the money. Tyner is representing Melisandre (“Missy”) Harris Dawes, who left her baby in a hot car to die twelve years earlier and was acquitted by reason of criminal insanity. It turns out that Missy also had been involved with Tyner before her marriage to the successful businessman Stephen Dawes.
Stephen is now remarried with a new baby, and has custody of the two surviving daughters from his marriage to Missy. Missy has returned to Baltimore to see if she can get her daughters back. In addition, she has hired someone to make a documentary about her case in order to educate people about criminal insanity, and to show how society is reluctant to accept such a verdict and grant forgiveness.
But matters take a violent turn, and everyone involved is in danger, including Tess. While the pool of possibly guilty people is small, the case is complicated by the fact that almost all of the suspects are very unreliable narrators.
Evaluation: Readers get to spend a lot of time with Tess in this installment, and to enjoy her self-deprecating sense of humor and her love of Baltimore. Moreover, many will relate to Tess’s struggles with her new existence as a parent.
Published by William Morrow, and imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, 2015
Note: The publisher has a fun site dedicated to this book that features character profiles, audio excerpts, an interactive map of Baltimore, and weekly contests! You can check it out here.
In addition, you can find out more about famous Berger’s Cookies online. (These are the ones that Tess’s boyfriend, Crow, would never eat, but that play an important role in this story, and are the one thing I regularly beg my sisters to mail to me). Their website is here.