Hardly Knew Her
  • Hardly Knew Her
  • Hardly Knew Her

Hardly Knew Her

4.5 13
by Laura Lippman

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New York Times bestselling author Laura Lippman has been hailed as one of the best crime fiction writers in America today, winning virtually every major award in the genre. The author of the enormously popular series featuring Baltimore P.I. Tess Monaghan as well as three critically lauded stand-alone novels, Lippman now turns her attention to short stories—and…  See more details below


New York Times bestselling author Laura Lippman has been hailed as one of the best crime fiction writers in America today, winning virtually every major award in the genre. The author of the enormously popular series featuring Baltimore P.I. Tess Monaghan as well as three critically lauded stand-alone novels, Lippman now turns her attention to short stories—and reveals another level of mastery.

Lippman sets many of the stories in this sterling anthology, Hardly Knew Her, in familiar territory: her beloved Baltimore, from downtown to its affluent suburbs, where successful businessmen go to shocking lengths to protect what they have or ruthlessly expand their holdings, while dissatisfied wives find murderous ways to escape their lives. But Lippman is also unafraid to travel—to New Orleans, to an unnamed southwestern city, and even to Dublin, the backdrop for the lethal clash of two not-so-innocents abroad. Tess Monaghan is here, in two stories and a profile, aligning herself with various underdogs. And in her extraordinary, never-before-published novella, Scratch a Woman, Lippman takes us deep into the private world of a high-priced call girl/madam and devoted soccer mom, exploring the mystery of what may, in fact, be written in the blood.

Each of these ingenious tales is a gem—sometimes poignant, sometimes humorous, always filled with delightfully unanticipated twists and reversals. For people who have yet to read Lippman, get ready to experience the spellbinding power of "one of today's most pleasing storytellers, hailed for her keen psychological insights and her compelling characterizations," (San Diego Union-Tribune), who has "invigorated the crime fiction arena with smart, innovative, and exciting work" (George Pelecanos). As for longtime devotees of her multiple award-winning novels, you'll discover that you hardly know her.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

It’s not Linda Emond’s fault that most of Lippman’s women who kill are white, middle-class and between the aged 30–40. Almost all live in the corridor between Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., and eradicate men who have it coming to them. No wonder they tend to speak alike. The talented Emond strives with some success to individualize these murderers’ first-person narratives. In the short story “My Baby Walks the Streets of Baltimore,” Emond, who has previously read Lippman’s Another Thing to Fall, performs Tess Monaghan as the crisp and efficient detective she is meant to be. While Francois Battiste is given comparatively little to do, he shines in his reading of “Pony Girl” as the too-smooth and confident man-on-the-make who is no match for two beautiful Mardi Gras celebrants. This collection is both entertaining and forgettable, but Lippman fans will not be disappointed by these talented performances. A Morrow hardcover (Reviews, Aug. 25). (Oct.)

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Library Journal

Lippman's fans may be diappointed to discover that her latest book is a collection story. They shouldn't be. Having won awards and increasing popularity for both her Tess Monoghan series and her darker stand-alone novels (What the Dead Know), Lippman shows herself to be a master of short fiction, too. She also clearly agrees with Kipling that the female of the species is deadlier than the male. Women's victims here include a female friend, boyfriends (both current and ex), a husband, and one-night stands and strangers; their murders are all the more chilling. The novella "Scratch A Woman," featuring a single suburban Maryland soccer mom who works as a prostitute, and one of several stories featuring Tess are the only entries not published previously. But those that have been published are scattered in a variety of anthologies over the last seven years, including Baltimore Noir. Here are nearly all of the short stories Lippman has ever written in one volume; read them fast, like a glutton, or slowly to savor each one. Either way, this is a treasure. [See Prepub Alert, LJ6/15/08; library marketing.]
—Michele Leber

Kirkus Reviews
People, places and the things they love are the focus of Lippman's unwavering gaze in this collection of 17 stories, 15 of them reprints from 2001-07. Not all of Lippman's characters have the burning sense of justice of Tess Monaghan, Lippman's series sleuth. The dual heroines of "Scratch a Woman," the volume's brand-new centerpiece novella, seem more concerned with safeguarding their comfortable suburban lifestyle against threats real and imagined. Protecting what's theirs cuts across age categories, as 20-something Molly of "The Crack Cocaine Diet," over-mortgaged soccer mom Sally in "ARM and the Woman" and senior-citizen porn star Mona in "Femme Fatale" all prove. In the chilling title story, a Dundalk teenager learns to protect herself against her inveterate gambler dad. Lippman's Baltimore tales have the strongest sense of place, from the tony Brass Elephant on Charles Street where Tess and her best friend Whitney Talbot interrupt a fistfight in "The Shoeshine Man's Regrets" to the gentrified Federal Hill of "Easy as A-B-C," to the south-of-Pimlico row houses in "Black-Eyed Susan," where enterprising families find ingenious ways to make a buck on Preakness Saturday. But her sketches of New Orleans and D.C. ring true, and "Honor Bar," set in Dublin, could take place in any hotel in any town in the world. As "Dear Penthouse Forum (A First Draft)" demonstrates, Lippman's best action is inside her characters' minds anyway. Lippman fans won't be disappointed with these small treasures. Agent: Vicky Bijur/Vicky Bijur Literary Agency

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HarperCollins Publishers
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Hardly Knew Her


By Laura Lippman
HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.
Copyright © 2008

Laura Lippman
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9780061584992

Chapter One

The Crack Cocaine Diet

I had just broken up with Brandon and Molly had just broken up with Keith, so we needed new dresses to go to this party where we knew they were both going to be. But before we could buy the dresses, we needed to lose weight because we had to look fabulous, kiss-my-ass-fuck-you fabulous.

Kiss-my-ass-fuck-you-and-your-dick-is-really-tiny fabulous. Because, after all, Brandon and Keith were going to be at this party, and if we couldn't get new boyfriends in less than eight days, we could at least go down a dress size and look so good that Brandon and Keith and everybody else in the immediate vicinity would wonder how they ever let us go. I mean, yes, technically, they broke up with us, but we had been thinking about it, weighing the pros and cons. (Pro: they spent money on us. Con: they were childish. Pro: we had them. Con: tiny dicks, see above.) See, we were being methodical and they were just all impulsive, the way guys are. That would be another con—poor impulse control. Me, I never do anything without thinking it through very carefully. Anyway, I'm not sure what went down with Molly and Keith, but Brandon said if he wanted to be nagged all the time, he'd move back in with his mother, and I said, "Well, given that she still does your laundryand makes you food, it's not as if you really moved out," and that was that. No big loss.

Still, we had to look so great that other guys would be punching our exes in the arms and saying, "What, are you crazy?" Everything is about spin, even dating. It's always better to be the dumper instead of the dumpee, and if you have to be the loser, then you need to find a way of being superior. And that was going to take about seven pounds for me, as many as ten for Molly, who doesn't have my discipline and had been doing some serious breakup eating for the past three weeks. She went facedown in the Ding Dongs, danced with the Devil Dogs, became a Ho Ho ho. As for myself, I'm a salty girl, and I admit I had the Pringles Light can upended in my mouth for a couple of days.

So, anyway, Molly said Atkins, and I said not fast enough, and then I said a fast-fast, and Molly said she saw little lights in front of her eyes the last time she tried to go no food, and she said cabbage soup and I said it gives me gas, and then she said pills, and I said all the doctors we knew were too tight with their scrips, even her dentist boss since she stopped blowing him. And, finally, Molly had a good idea and said: "Cocaine!"

This merited consideration. Molly and I had never done more than a little recreational coke, always provided by boyfriends who were trying to impress us, but even my short-term experience indicated it would probably do the trick. The tiniest bit revved you up for hours and you raced around and around, and it wasn't that you weren't hungry, more like you had never even heard of food, it was just some quaint custom from the olden days, like square dancing. I mean, you could do it in theory, but why would you?

"Okay," I said. "Only where do we get it?" After all, we're girls, girly girls. I had been drinking and smoking pot since I was sixteen, but I certainly didn't buy it. That's what boyfriends were for. Pro: Brandon bought my drinks, and if you don't have to lay out cash for alcohol, you can buy a lot more shoes.

Molly thought hard, and Molly thinking was like a fat guy running—there was a lot of visible effort.

"Well, like, the city."

"But where in the city?"

"On, like, a corner."

"Right, Molly. I watch HBO, too. But I mean, what corner? It's not like they list them in that crap Weekender Guide in the paper—movies, music, clubs, where to buy drugs."

So Molly asked a guy who asked a guy who talked to a guy, and it turned out there was a place just inside the city line, not too far from the interstate. Easy on, easy off, then easy off again. Get it? After a quick consultation on what to wear—jeans and T-shirts and sandals, although I changed into running shoes after I saw the condition of my pedicure—we were off. Very hush-hush because, as I explained to Molly, that was part of the adventure. I phoned my mom and said I was going for a run. Molly told her mom she was going into the city to shop for a dress, and we were off.

The friend of Molly's friend's friend had given us directions to what turned out to be an apartment complex, which was kind of disappointing. I mean, we were expecting rowhouses, slumping picturesquely next to each other, but this was just a dirtier, more run-down version of where we lived, little clusters of two-story townhouses built around a courtyard. We drove around and around and around, trying to seem very savvy and willing, and it looked like any apartment complex on a hot July afternoon. Finally, on our third turn around the complex, a guy ambled over to the car.

"What you want?"

"What you got?" I asked, which I thought was pretty good. I mean, I sounded casual but kind of hip, and if he turned out to be a cop, I hadn't implicated myself. See, I was always thinking, unlike some people I could name.

"Got American Idol and Survivor. The first one will make you sing so pretty that Simon will be speechless. The second one will make you feel as if you've got immunity for life."

"O-kay." Molly reached over me with a fistful of bills, but the guy backed away from the car.


Excerpted from Hardly Knew Her by Laura Lippman Copyright © 2008 by Laura Lippman. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Hardly Knew Her 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 13 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great short stories! I believe there were 16 shorts. They were all very good stories! I really enjoyed reading the stories! You also save 6 dollars by buying this book instead of the individually! Excellent treat!
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nursesueSB More than 1 year ago
lots of short stories in this collection
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I'd read everything I could find of Lippmann's before this and enjoyed her skill. This collection of shorter stories, however, shows a darker side, a more sordid side. I'm not sure I'll even finish it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago