Customer Reviews for

Charm City (Tess Monaghan Series #2)

Average Rating 3.5
( 48 )
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Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 48 Customer Reviews
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  • Posted July 20, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Quite an improvement from her first book!

    After my disappointment with Lippman's first book, "Baltimore Blues," I kept my hopes high for this book, hearing that her work had improved after her first release. I very much enjoyed the Tess Monaghan in this book. Smarter, more established with a firmer hold on her life, she transforms from the awkward, immature woman from "Baltimore Blues" and emerges into a figure many can admire. "Baltimore Blues" Tess was dangerously close to becoming the Stephanie Plum character from Janet Evanovich's books that I despise. I was extremely pleased and relieved Tess managed to grow up.

    As for this book, "Charm City," the plot was a little confusing. It was a little hard for me to understand how Sterling tied into the beginning and how Tess managed to tie all the evidence together. Her methods to acquire information were at times hard to believe, like when she showed up at the widow Wink's home with a gold bracelet after the media had been hounding her for days. Honestly, what woman would let a stranger into her home and pour her soul out about her private life? Maybe it's just me. Also, in the end (SPOILER ALERT) it was discovered that the culprit's fingerprints were on the car door. Why didn't anyone think to look that up in the beginning, when the crime was committed? Did I miss that? There was no mention of dusting for fingerprints in the first place.

    Aside from the few holes I found in the story, Lippman has an enormous talent for writing. I admired her sentence structuring and her descriptions. She manages to describe in full detail without boring me or going over the top. I look forward to reading more of her books.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 4, 2014

    Great!

    I really liked this book! It is an easy read and very suspenseful. I really enjpy the characters!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 6, 2000

    For lovers of local color

    Having read two of Lippman's mysteries, I'd classify the plots as solid and competent, interesting but not engrossing. The books excel at describing Baltimore. Lippman's writing about the city is wonderfully vivid and, more than most, chronicles not only the buildings, but the people and I think would bring the city to life even for those who aren't familiar with it. In this respect, I think that Lippman is much better than Anne Tyler. The main problem with the book, unfortunately, is the heroine who is the most implausible private eye I've ever encountered. Miss Marple would eat her for lunch. Tess Monaghan is a very immature 29-year old who is so diffident that it is hard to fathom why her friends have decided that she should go into detective work, which requires energy, boldness and is potentially dangerous. And make no mistake, her friends run her life for her; she doesn't seem to have any ideas of her own. She's like a high-school kid who follows her friends blindly whatever they do, but bickers idiotically with her parents. This doesn't seem to be the result of losing her only job after the newspaper she worked for folded. She only took that job because one of her friends was a reporter, and when she didn't get a job with the surviving paper, she didn't know what to do. She reminds me of the gooey black mud that coats the bottom of some part of the Bay and it's tributaries: a passive nuisance. After doing a respectable job on her first case, Tess strikes out completely on her second, surviving only because a friend who is considerably faster on the uptake comes to her rescue. Somehow, even as Tess goes about her detecting, what she is shown as doing just doesn't mesh with how she is shown as thinking. Lippman throws in the occasional Good Deed to make her heroine seem more admirable, but it seems more like a formulaic plot contrivance (the detective is supposed to administer unofficial justice) than a natural outcome of Tess' personality. Tess strikes me as a generally charmless character; I suppose that's why Lippmen gives her a dog in the second book. I often don't find hard-boiled detectives likeable, but as long as I respect them and the stories are good, I don't need to. (Tess is more like half-baked.) A certain sour pettiness goes with the genre. The detective observes all things great and small with an acerbic carping that presumably is intended to show a superior discerning sensibility but in Tess it's more like tiresome querulousness. For example, Tess' mother has a fondness for carefully developed monochromatic schemes that is (for some unexplained reason) a great trial to her daughter. I think that it shows that she is a woman with an artistic streak and a dreary daughter who should have gotten past adolescent surliness a long time ago. It's almost the only character development Judith Weinstein Monaghan gets. Like so many authors, Lippman has simply plugged in the stock character of Meddling Mom. Tess' aunts and uncles, on the other hand are charming and vividly drawn and supply the character interest. So I'd say that, presuming this is your type of mystery, or you like books with a strong sense of place, this is a good bet when you're looking for something to read. If character is important to you, or you only like to read this sub-genre is it's really good, I'd look for something else.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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