Cleveland Plain Dealer
“A major work of suspense.”
“Laura Lippman in her series featuring Baltimore private investigator Tess Monaghan just keeps getting better and better”
New York Times Book Review
“Spectacular. . . . A fast, cleverly ellusive story.”
Lippman, reporter for the Baltimore Sun, excels at vivid portraits of her town's offbeat neighborhoods, hangouts and inhabitants. Seen through the eyes of her protagonist--a smart, funny P.I. named Tess Monaghan--Baltimore is never dull
Washington Post Book World
Lippman’s “usual deft precision”...The Last Place “shouldn’t be missed” !
Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel
“The Last Place is the first place readers should turn to for a superior story.”
A string of unsolved homicides sends private investigator Tess Monaghan hightailing it around the state of Maryland searching for a culprit. As she attempts to connect the disparate dots, she starts to wonder if these violent incidents might hold clues to a murder in her own past. Sue Grafton fans will find it easy to identify with Lippman's down-to-earth, personable Baltimore sleuth.
When Pope Julius II saw Michelangelo's Piet , he determined to have his grand tomb made by the artist. Summoned from Florence to Rome in 1508, Michelangelo found himself on the losing side of a competition between architects and the victim of a plot "to force a hopeless task" upon him-frescoing the vault of the Sistine Chapel. How the sculptor met this painterly challenge is the matter of this popular account, which demythologizes and dramatizes without hectoring or debasing. Forget cinematic images of Charlton Heston flat on his back-Michelangelo's "head tipped back, his body bent like a bow, his beard and paintbrush pointing to heaven, and his face spattered with paint" is excruciating enough to sustain the legend. King (Brunelleschi's Dome) re-creates Michelangelo's day-to-day world: the assistants who worked directly on the Sistine Chapel, the continuing rivalry with Raphael and the figures who had much to do with his world if not his art (da Vinci, Savonarola, Ariosto, Machiavelli, Martin Luther, Erasmus), including the steely Julius II. King makes the familiar fresh, reminding the reader of the "novelty" of Michelangelo's image of God and how "completely unheard of in previous depictions of the ancestors of Christ" was his use of women. Technical matters (making pigments, foreshortening) are lucidly handled. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
In the seventh entry in Lippman's award-winning mystery series (and the third in hardcover after In a Strange City), someone is stalking feisty Baltimore P.I. Tess Monaghan. Tess is working for the foundation of moneyed college chum Whitney (who just got Tess involved in an escapade that has her in court-ordered therapy), investigating five seemingly unrelated open murder cases throughout Maryland to see whether there is a domestic homicide angle. Off the job, despite being happy with her younger boyfriend, Crow, Tess is having nightmares about seeing a former lover killed in front of her two years earlier. A Toll Authority cop who is obsessed with one of the murders (after finding the victim's decapitated head) becomes Tess's sidekick, and they follow a trail that eventually ties up all threads of the plot and leaves Tess with new nightmares. Lippman deftly juggles a sense of foreboding with quotidian details as she spins an engrossing tale, and she captures the essence of other Maryland venues as acutely as she does that of Baltimore. Tess is a standout among female protagonists in mysteries, and this is absolutely first-rate. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 6/15/02.]-Michele Leber, Fairfax Cty. P.L., VA Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
A legend-busting, richly detailed account of the four-year making of the Sistine Chapel frescos.
When Pope Julius II wasn’t riding off to subdue some unfortunate neighbor during the endless Papal Wars, he was hounding poor Michelangelo--"When will you have this chapel finished?"--to make good on his three-thousand-ducat commission and reveal to an expectant world the mysteries of the Creation. If you’ve put those impatient words in the mouth of Rex Harrison, who brought Julius to the screen in The Agony and the Ecstasy, you’ll know that poor Michelangelo worked alone, racked by the demons of poverty and artistic insecurity, to say nothing of the Inquisition. Not so, writes King (Domino, p. 1337, etc.). It’s not that the pope was a patient or gentle man--from time to time he gave Michelangelo a good clout, and he once threatened to throw the recalcitrant artist off his scaffolding. But Michelangelo was being paid very well for his work and had a squadron of skilled craftsmen at his disposal, and it was they, not he, who spent years on their backs staring up at the ceiling, paintbrush in hand, while Michelangelo was ducking off to check on other commissions in Florence and Bologna. King supplies a richly nuanced view of Michelangelo and company’s day-to-day life in the Sistine Chapel, placing it in the context of the overall Renaissance, a time of plenty of bloodshed and intrigue, but also of extraordinary artistic accomplishment thanks to the likes of Julius, Cesare Borgia, and other noteworthy hotheads. Disputing the now accepted view that Michelangelo was gay (there is no good evidence, King argues, that he had much of any kind of sex life), King examines Michelangelo’s considerablevirtues and quirks--one of which, his understandable desire not to show a work until it was done, was to get him into much trouble with his eminent patron.
Readers looking for the lite version of this tale may still want to fire up the VCR and watch Charlton Heston chew the scenery. Those seeking a richer understanding of Renaissance art-making will find this a pleasure.
Read an Excerpt
It seemed like a good idea at the time.
Tess Monaghan was sitting outside a bar in the Baltimore suburbs. It was early spring, the mating season, and this bland but busy franchise was proof that birds do it, bees do it, even Baltimore County yuppies in golf pants and Top-Siders do it.
"Kind of a benign hangout for a child molester," Tess said to Whitney Talbot, her oldest friend, her college roomie, her literal partner in crime on a few occasions. "Although it is convenient to several area high schools, as well as Towson University and Goucher."
"Possible child molester," Whitney corrected from the driver's seat of the Suburban. Whitney's vehicles only seemed to get bigger over the years, no matter what the price of gas was doing. "We don't have proof that he knew how young Mercy was when this started. Besides, she's sixteen, Tess. You were having sex at sixteen."
"Yeah, with other sixteen-year-olds. But if he came after your cousin -- "
"Second cousin, once removed."
"My guess is he's done it before. And will do it again. Your family solved the Mercy problem. But how do we keep him from becoming some other family's problem? Not everyone can pack their daughters off to expensive boarding schools, you know."
"They can't?" But Whitney's raised eyebrow made it clear that she was mocking her family and its money.
The two friends stared morosely through the windshield, stumped by the stubborn deviancy of men. They had saved one girl from this pervert's clutches. But the world had such a large supply of girls, and an even larger supply of perverts. The least they could do was reduce the pervert populationby one. But how? If Tess knew anything of compulsive behavior -- and she knew quite a bit -- it was that most people didn't stop, short of a cataclysmic intervention. A heart attack for a smoker, the end of a marriage for a drinker.
Their Internet buddy was in serious need of an intervention.
"You don't have to go in there," Whitney said.
"Yeah, I do."
"And then what?"
"You tell me. This was your plan."
"To tell you the truth, I didn't think it would get this far."
It had been six weeks since Whitney had first come to Tess with this little family drama, the saga of her cousin and what she had been doing on the Internet late at night. Correction: second cousin, once removed. The quality of Mercy was definitely strained, weakened by intermarriage and a few too many falls in the riding ring.
And perhaps Mercy would have been a trimester into the unplanned pregnancy she had been bucking for, if it weren't for a late-night hunger pang. Mercy was foraging for provisions in the kitchen when her computer-illiterate mother had entered her bedroom just in time to hear the sparkly thrush of music that accompanies an IM and seen this succinct question: "Are you wearing panties?" Within days, Mercy's hard drive had been dissected, revealing a voluminous correspondence between her and a man who claimed to be a twenty-five-year-old stockbroker. Mercy's parents had pulled the plug, literally and figuratively, on her burgeoning romance.
But by Whitney's calculation, that left one miscreant free to roam, continuing his panty census.
It had been Tess's idea to search for Music Loverr in his world. With the help of a computer-savvy friend, they created a dummy account for a mythical creature known as Varsity Grrl and began exploring the crevices of the Internet, looking for those places where borderline pedophiles were most likely to stalk their prey.
Whitney and Tess had both taken turns at the keyboard, but it was Tess who lured Music Loverr, now rechristened GoToGuy, into the open. She had finally found him in a chat room devoted to girls' lacrosse. They had retreated to a private room at his invitation -- an invitation that followed her more or less truthful description of herself, down to and including her thirty-six-inch inseam. Then she had watched, in almost grudging admiration, as this virtual man began the long patient campaign necessary to seduce a high school girl. As she waited for his messages to pop up -- he was a much slower typist than she -- Tess thought of the movie Bedazzled, the original one, where Peter Cook, a most devilish devil, tells sad-sack Dudley Moore that a man can have any woman in the world if he'll just stay up listening to her until ten past four in the morning. Tess figured a teenage girl could be had by midnight.
Not that GoToGuy knew her pretend age, not at first. He had teased that out of her, Tess being evasive in what she hoped was a convincingly adolescent way. She made him wait a week before she admitted she was under twenty-one. Well, under eighteen, actually.
Can we still be friends? she had typed.
Definitely, he replied.
The courtship only intensified. They soon had a standing date to chat at 10 p.m. Tess would pour herself a brimming glass of red wine and sit down to her laptop with great reluctance, opening up the account created for just this purpose. Afterward, she showered or took a hot bath.Do you have a fake ID? GoToGuy had IM'd her two nights ago.
Finally. He had been slow enough on the uptake, although not so slow that he had revealed anything about his true identity, which was what Tess really wanted.
No. Do you know how I can get one?
Sure enough, he did. Last night, informed that she had gone and obtained the fake ID, he had asked if she knew of this bar, which happened to be within walking distance of the Light Rail -- in case she didn't drive or couldn't get the family car.
And I can always drive you home, he promised.
I bet you can, Tess had thought, her fingers hovering above the keys before she typed her assent. Her stomach lurched. She wondered if he had gotten this far with Mercy. The girl swore they had never met, but the tracking software was not perfect. E-mails could have been lost ...The Last Place. Copyright © by Laura Lippman. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.