Baltimore Blues (Tess Monaghan Series #1) [NOOK Book]

Overview

Until her paper, the Baltimore Star, crashed and burned, Tess Monaghan was a damn good reporter who knew her hometown intimately -- from historic Fort McHenry to the crumbling projects of Cherry Hill. Now gainfully unemployed at twenty-nine, she's willing to take any freelance job to pay the rent -- including a bit of unorthodox snooping for her rowing buddy, Darryl "Rock" Paxton.

In a city where someone is murdered almost everyday, attorney Michael Abramowitz's death should be ...

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Baltimore Blues (Tess Monaghan Series #1)

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Overview

Until her paper, the Baltimore Star, crashed and burned, Tess Monaghan was a damn good reporter who knew her hometown intimately -- from historic Fort McHenry to the crumbling projects of Cherry Hill. Now gainfully unemployed at twenty-nine, she's willing to take any freelance job to pay the rent -- including a bit of unorthodox snooping for her rowing buddy, Darryl "Rock" Paxton.

In a city where someone is murdered almost everyday, attorney Michael Abramowitz's death should be just another statistic. But the slain lawyer's notoriety -- and his noontime trysts with Rock's fiancee -- make the case front page news...and points to Rock as the likely murderer. But trying to prove her friend's innocence couls prove costly to Tess -- and add her name to that infamous ever-growing list.

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Editorial Reviews

Julie Smith
Laura Lippman deserves to be a big star.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Downsized ex-reporter Tess Monaghan spends her days working part-time at the bookstore owned by sexy Aunt Kitty and trying not to fall into the disgustingly polluted Patapsco from her city-owned boat. When rowing buddy Rocky pays her what looks like a fortune to follow his fianc, the trail leads to murder with Rocky the prime suspect. "Uneven" is the word for this first novel-hometown and newspaper backgrounds are alive from page one, but characters are cartoons until chapter 15 (out of 30) when Tess investigates the victim. Suddenly the story perks up to a believable pageturner. If Lippman continues the promise of the second half of Baltimore Blues while adhering to advice attributed to Elmore Leonard to cut out the parts people won't read, mystery fans can anticipate an engrossing series. (Feb.)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780061806612
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 10/13/2009
  • Series: Tess Monaghan Series , #1
  • Sold by: HARPERCOLLINS
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 384
  • Sales rank: 19,573
  • File size: 534 KB

Meet the Author

Laura Lippman

Since her debut in 1997, Laura Lippman has been heralded for her thoughtful, timely crime novels set in her beloved hometown of Baltimore. She is the author of twenty works of fiction, including eleven Tess Monaghan mysteries. She lives in Baltimore, New Orleans, and New York City with her family.

Biography

Laura Lippman was a reporter for 20 years, including 12 years at The (Baltimore) Sun. She began writing novels while working fulltime and published seven books about "accidental PI" Tess Monaghan before leaving daily journalism in 2001. Her work has been awarded the Edgar ®, the Anthony, the Agatha, the Shamus, the Nero Wolfe, Gumshoe, and Barry awards. She also has been nominated for other prizes in the crime fiction field, including the Hammett and the Macavity. She was the first-ever recipient of the Mayor's Prize for Literary Excellence and the first genre writer recognized as Author of the Year by the Maryland Library Association.

Ms. Lippman grew up in Baltimore and attended city schools through ninth grade. After graduating from Wilde Lake High School in Columbia, Md., Ms. Lippman attended Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism. Her other newspaper jobs included the Waco Tribune-Herald and the San Antonio Light.

Ms. Lippman returned to Baltimore in 1989 and has lived there since.

Biography from author's website.

Good To Know

In our interview, Lippman shared some fun and fascinating facts about herself:

"I can do an imitation of Ethel Merman singing ‘Satisfaction.'"

"I'm not a Baltimore native -- I arrived here about six years too late for that. But I love the fact that I've convinced the world that I am."

"Like my character, Tess Monaghan, I used to row. Unlike her, I was very, very bad at it."

"I've written eight books in my series -- one not yet published -- and a stand-alone crime novel, but my subject is always, on some level, Baltimore.

It's a problem-place, neither northern nor southern, somewhat addicted to nostalgia, yet amnesiac about the more dicey parts of its past. I used an epigraph from H. L. Mencken in one of my books: ‘A Baltimorean is not merely John Doe, an isolated individual of Homo sapiens, like every other John Doe. He is a John Doe of a certain place -- of Baltimore, of a definite home in Baltimore.' I am a person of a certain place, and that place happens to be Baltimore."

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    1. Hometown:
      Baltimore, Maryland
    1. Date of Birth:
      January 31, 1959
    2. Place of Birth:
      Atlanta, Georgia
    1. Education:
      B.S., Medill School of Journalism, Northwestern University, 1981

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

On the last night of August, Tess Monaghan went to the drugstore and bought a composition book-one with a black and-white marble cover. She had done this every fall since she was six and saw no reason to change, despite the differences wrought by twenty-three years. Never mind that she had a computer with a memory capable of keeping anything she might want to record. Never mind that she had to go to Rite Aid because Weinstein's Drugs had long ago been run into the ground by her grandfather. Never mind that she was no longer a student, no longer had a job, and summer's end held little relevance for her. Tess believed in routines and rituals. So she bought a composition book for $1.69, took it home, and opened it to the first page, where she wrote:

Goals for Autumn:

1. Bench press 120 pounds.

2. Run a 7-minute mile.

3. Read Don Quixote.

4. Find a job, etc.

She sat at her desk and looked at what she had written. The first two items were within teach, although it would take work: She could do up to ten reps at a hundred pounds and run four miles in thirty minutes. Don Quixote had defeated her before, but she felt ready for it this fall.

Number 4 was more problematic. For one thing it would require figuring out what kind of job she wanted, a dilemma that had been perplexing her for two years, ever since Baltimore's penultimate newspaper, the Star, had folded, and its ultimate paper, the Beacon-Light, had not hired her.

Tess slapped the notebook closed, filed it on a shelf with twenty-two others-all blank except for the first page-set her alarm, and was asleep in five minutes. It was the eve ofthe first day of school, time for the city to throw off its August doldrums and move briskly toward fall. Maybe it could carry Tess with it.

The alarm went off seven hours later, at 5:15 A.M. She dressed quickly and ran to her car, sniffing the breeze to see if fall might be early this year. The air was depressingly thick and syrupy, indifferent to Tess's expectations. Her eleven year-old Toyota, the most dependable thing in her life, turned over instantly. "Thank you, precious," she said, patting the dashboard, then heading off through downtown's deserted streets.

On the other side of the harbor, the boat house was dark. It often was at 5:30, for the attendant did not find minimum wage incentive enough to leave his bed and arrive in Cherry Hill before first light. The neighborhood, a grim place at any time of day, had long ago been stripped of its fruit trees. And though its gentle slopes offered a sweeping view of Baltimore's harbor and skyline, no one came to Cherry Hill for the views.

Fortunately Tess had her own boat house key, as did most of the diehard rowers. She let herself in, stashed her key ring in locker in the ladies' dressing room, then ran downstairs and grabbed her oars, anxious to be on the water before the college students arrived. She didn't like being lumped in with what she thought of as the J. Crew crews, callow youths with hoarse chatter of tests they had aced and kegs they had tapped. But she also felt out of place among the Baltimore Rowing Club's efficient grown-ups, professionals who rushed from morning practice to jobs, real ones, at hospitals and research labs, law firms and brokerage houses.

"Watch my line, girlie," a crabber called out, his voice thick in the humid morning air.

"I see it," she said, balancing an Alden Ocean Shell above her head as she threaded her way down the dock and the crabbers' gauntlet of string, chicken necks, and bushel baskets. The crabbers, Cherry Hill residents supplementing their government checks with the Patapsco's bounty, were having a good morning, even if much of their catch was illegal- pregnant females, crabs less than five inches across. Tess wouldn't tell. She didn't care. She didn't eat anything from the local waters.

At least the city-owned Alden was easy to launch. The sun was still lurking just beyond the Francis Scott Key Bridge when Tess pushed off in the choppy water and started for Fort McHenry. Almost reflexively, she hummed "The Star Spangled Banner." Oh say can you see? She would catch herself, stop, then unconsciously start again; after all, she was rowing toward the anthem's birthplace. And the rockets' red glare, the bombs bursting in air. . .

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Table of Contents

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 510 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(83)

4 Star

(158)

3 Star

(164)

2 Star

(54)

1 Star

(51)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 517 Customer Reviews
  • Posted July 14, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Dull but great writing style

    I first found Laura Lipton on Facebook. After reading her book summaries, I decided to pick up her first novel, "Baltimore Blues." While the book was well written, I found it to be a little dull. It's more of a detective fiction novel, something similar to Sue Grafon's Alphabet Series' detective, Kinsey Millhone. Compared to Kinsey, however, I found Tess to be immature, lazy, and unorganized. I would compare her to Janet Evanovich's character, Stephanie Plum. Tess seems to be floating through life, leaning on family and friends for support.

    But I've read reviews of Lipton's other books and I will continue to read her books. From previous reviews I have read, it sounds like her character, Tess, grows and develops into an admirable character, and the stories keep getting better. I admired Lipton's writing style as well as her talent for description.

    14 out of 14 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 24, 2010

    Baltimore Blues - Great Rainy Day Read

    I love mysteries - all kinds (Diane Mott Davidson, Laurie King, Deaver, Baldacci, Lisa Gardner, Grisham, Meltzer - the list goes on). I was pulled into the Tess Monaghan series immediately. The writing style is casual, but intricate enough to create three dimensional characters. I have read the books in order (currently on book 5). I'm kind of like Goldie Locks. Some myteries are too light and fluffy and some are just over the top (gore or illogical plots, etc). Lippman's Monaghan is just right! These are lighter mysteries compared to Gardner and Deaver, but the plots are well constructed. The killer has not been obvious in any of the ones I have read, but the twists and solution have always been plausible. I have also found the characters endearing. Great rainy day read.

    9 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 4, 2002

    Laura Lippman = GREAT read

    I read a review of Baltimore Blues on this web site by a lady named Beth (dated Aug 4th 1999) and found 5 different titles in the Tess Monaghan series in one of the bookstores here in Paris. Never having heard of Laura Lippman before, even though I am an avid reader of crime fiction, I decided to buy the lot. I AM SO GLAD I DID ! Wow, what a writer! All the characters are well portrayed, especially Esskay, the greyhound with the bad breath, who appears first in Charm City ! If anyone is looking for a "new name" (even though the first in the series appeared 3/4 years ago) start here. Thank you, Beth, for your review AND thank you Laura for such enjoyable, entertaining, gripping writing.

    8 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 12, 2011

    Good book.

    I really enjoyed this mystery. It left me wondering through the whole book. I didn't have a clue about the ending.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 8, 2011

    Not recommended

    I was born and raised in Baltimore and found some of the material written by Laura Lippman regarding Baltimore to be offensive. A person reading this book would think that Baltimore is a horrible place to live. Like all cities and towns, there are good areas and not-to-good areas. In addition to finding the book borderline boring, I will not be reading any more books written by this author.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 17, 2011

    Mediocre

    I am a bit surprised by all the glowing five-star reviews of this book, as I found it fairly mediocre. This isn't a bad book, it just isn't a good book. The author's style makes for easy reading, but I was somewhat disappointed in both the plot and character development. Neither seemed advanced enough to draw me into caring. In fact, some of the characters were surprisingly one-dimensional. (By comparison, I could barely put down the last two books I read.) I used to call this type of book mystery-lite when my ex read them: nothing complex, nothing puzzling, nothing particularly mysterious, it just happens to have an an unsolved crime. Yawn.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 19, 2012

    Good

    Strong characters and a nice plot

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 3, 2012

    Unlikable characters, boring and contrived story. Don't bother.

    I kept waiting for this book to begin, then it was over. The main character/narrator is whiny and I had no interest in her. The writing style was self-satisfied and overdone. It was as if Ms. Lippmann was going for 'gorgeous woman who doesn't realize how pretty she is' and ended up with 'helpless, codependent woman who is self-indulgent and has an inflated sense of her own intelligence.' This character is not like Stephanie Plum at ALL; Stephanie is funny, nonjudgmental and honorable. I would even go so far as to say this writer doesn't seem to like women.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 9, 2011

    Waste of Time

    Had a hard time liking a main character that indulges in an illegal drug and who sleeps with a man who is committed to someone else. The storyline wasn't good enough to compensate.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 23, 2011

    OK but not great

    This was an extremely slow-paced book compared to other detective books that I'm used to, and then the ending seemed to have been rushed. The author does have an easy conversational style but the pace is too slow for me.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 9, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Baltimore Blues

    I have long been a huge fan of crime fiction. Among my favorite authors is George Pelecanos, a definitive man writer. Being so used to writers like Pelecanos, and the fact that I am a male, I was wary to read Laura Lippman because I wasn't sure if her books would appeal to me as much as it would a woman. By no means was I being sexist, but never mind that, Laura Lippman writes a great novel to start her series with character Tess Monoghan that a reader of either gender will find entertaining. While Baltimore Blues definitely has the feel of a first novel, which it is, and I'm sure that Mrs. Lippman's future novels will be better, Lippman creates a great character in Tess, she shows great skills in character development. At the end of the novel, I knew so much about Tess. This was a great novel, the plot was actually pretty good (I recently went to a signing of Mrs. Lippman's and she said that she found the plotting of her early novels were not very good), but her character development was a much bigger concern for her, which is fine, because Tess, and other characters in the book, are really great.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 16, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Decent read....

    Not a fantastic book but it was ok . I had a hard time getting into it but the middle was good. The end was just so-so.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 1, 2011

    Good quick read

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 14, 2011

    Boring!

    The author's writing style was great, however, the book lack that page- turner feel to it.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 14, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Recommended

    This was my first book by Lippman. I enjoyed it, mainly due to the main character and her "extended family" of characters. Pretty light, quick reading. Do intend to read the next Tess Managhan at some point.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 26, 2011

    Foul

    Too much cursing. Okay story line, but language needs to be cleaned up.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 16, 2011

    Not gripping

    Kept putting this book down as just didn't move fast enough.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 11, 2011

    Lots of twists!

    There were lots of good characters in this book who kept it moving, and the twists were always two steps ahead of me. It was a great read. I would to see more with Tesser!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 7, 2011

    ?

    ?

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 27, 2011

    A decent read.

    This was a decent read for the price. It had a good story line and was not predictable as I thought it was going to be. There is several pages of "filler" that seemed to drag on at times but for the most part I would reccomend it.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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