Monday, March 24, 2008

Charm City

With the March publication of Laura Lippman's tenth Tess Monaghan mystery, Another Thing to Fall, it's a perfect time to look back on Tess' career as told by Lippman. Her second mystery, Charm City, was originally published as a mass market original. Recently, William Morrow published the first collectible hardcover edition of that book.

Charm City is set in Baltimore in 1997. Having left her job as a newspaper reporter, Tess Monaghan is working full-time for a lawyer, working on a private investigation license. She's twenty-nine, and lives with her boyfriend, Crow, above her Aunt Kitty's bookstore. When she stumbles on a publicity event that announces that Wink Wynkowski will try to bring an NBA team to Baltimore, she doesn't realize she'll soon be thrust into the middle of Wynkowski's world. The local newspaper, the Beacon-Light, prematurely releases a front page article about Wink's past. The paper's editorial board hires Tess to look into the news leak. Before she knows it, she's probing into Wink's suicide, and his life. As a former reporter, Tess is the perfect investigator for the story.

So why would Tess also want to disrupt her life by taking in a mistreated greyhound? When her Uncle Spike is beaten in a robbery attempt at his bar, he turns his new dog, Esskay, over to Tess. Along with the dog comes threats and Spike's secrets. But, Spike is in a coma, so it's up to Tess to find out why the dog, and now, Tess, are in danger.

Tess Monaghan has grown and changed over the course of this series. It's a treat to go back and read her early story, and remember the younger woman, growing into her relationships with Crow and her dog. At the same time, we can watch her growing as a private investigator. Lippman loves her home city of Baltimore, and she created a character who also knows and loves the city. She also created a character who is an intuitive, careful investigator. She skillfully puts together a case, and tries to carefully back up her facts. Although it's not the first book in Lippman's award-winning series, Charm City is a successful introduction to Tess Monaghan and Monaghan's Baltimore.

Laura Lippman's website is

Charm City by Laura Lippman. William Morrow, ©2007. ISBN 978-0-06-121003-7 (hardcover), 308p.


Liviania said...

This sounds like a good series. It is nice to go back and re-experience a character's growth.

Lesa said...

Livi - It is a good series. I hadn't read any Laura Lippman, except for a standalone, in a few years. It was nice to go back and read this.