No Good Deeds (Tess Monaghan Series #9)

No Good Deeds (Tess Monaghan Series #9)

4.3 16
by Laura Lippman

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No good deed goes unpunished . . .

Working as a consultant for a Baltimore newspaper, p.i. Tess Monaghan seems far removed from the unsolved slaying of a young federal prosecutor—until her well-meaning boyfriend, Crow, brings a street kid into their lives, a juvenile con artist who doesn't even realize he holds an important key to the sensational homicide.

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No good deed goes unpunished . . .

Working as a consultant for a Baltimore newspaper, p.i. Tess Monaghan seems far removed from the unsolved slaying of a young federal prosecutor—until her well-meaning boyfriend, Crow, brings a street kid into their lives, a juvenile con artist who doesn't even realize he holds an important key to the sensational homicide. But Tess's ethical decision to protect the boy's identity no matter what could have dire consequences—especially when one of his friends is murdered in what appears to be a case of mistaken identity.

With federal agents threatening her with felony charges—and a killer threatening far worse—Tess couldn't deliver the kid to investigators even if she wanted to once Crow goes into hiding with his young protégé. So her only recourse is to get to the heart of the sordid and deadly affair while they're all still free . . . and still breathing.

Editorial Reviews
The Barnes & Noble Review
This installment of Laura Lippman's saga featuring vivacious Baltimore private investigator Tess Monaghan (By a Spider's Thread, The Last Place, et al.) pits Tess and her big-hearted boyfriend, Edgar "Crow" Ransome, against their most dangerous foe yet: their principles.

After finishing a shift volunteering at an inner-city soup kitchen, Ransome finds one of his car tires slashed and meets smooth-talking con man Lloyd Jupiter, who offers to help fix the flat for a nominal fee. Instead of calling the police on the 16-year-old scam artist, Ransome does the unthinkable and brings Jupiter back to his home, where he feeds him and offers him a bed for the night. When Tess returns home, she and Ransome discover that Jupiter may have information concerning an unsolved case involving the brutal murder of a federal prosecutor months earlier. After vowing not to reveal Jupiter's identity, Tess gives the local newspaper the story and almost immediately becomes Public Enemy No. 1 to a trio of ruthless law enforcement agents for refusing to reveal her source. With Ransome and Jupiter on the run and Tess trying hard to stay out of jail, the motives behind the mysterious murder are slowly uncovered…

Described as an homage to Lippman's favorite Robert B. Parker novel, Early Autumn, this page-turning whodunit is a surprisingly touching story about a kindly stranger teaching a troubled boy what it means to be a man. Fans of Lippman and Parker alike should enjoy this Tess Monaghan adventure. Paul Goat Allen

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Tess Monaghan Series, #9
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Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
4.18(w) x 6.75(h) x 1.00(d)

Read an Excerpt

No Good Deeds

A Tess Monaghan Novel
By Laura Lippman

HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

Copyright © 2006 Laura Lippman
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0060570725

Chapter One

When I was a kid, my favorite book was Horton Hears a Who, and, like most kids, I wanted to hear it over and over and over again. My indulgent but increasingly frazzled father tried to substitute Horton Hatches the Egg and other Dr. Seuss books, but nothing else would do, although I did permit season-appropriate readings of How the Grinch Stole Christmas. See, I had figured out what Seuss only implied: Those Whos down in Who-ville, the ones who taught the Grinch what Christmas was all about? Clearly they were the same Whos who lived on Horton's flower. That realization made me giddy, a five-year-old deconstructionist, taking the text down to its bones. The word was the word, the Who was the Who. For if the Whos lived on the flower, then it followed that the Grinch and his dog, Max, did, too, which meant that the Grinch was super tiny, and that meant there was no reason to fear him. The Grinch was the size of a dust mite! How much havoc could such a tiny being wreak?

A lot, I know now. A whole lot.

My name is Edgar "Crow" Ransome, and I indirectly caused a young man's murder a few months back. I did some other stuff, too, with far more consciousness, but it'sthis death that haunts me. I carry a newspaper clipping about the shooting in my wallet so I'll be reminded every day -- when I pull out bills for a three-dollar latte or grab my ATM card -- that my world and its villains are tiny, too, but no less lethal for it.

Tiny Town is, in fact, one of Baltimore's many nicknames -- along with Charm City and Mobtown -- and perhaps the most appropriate. Day in, day out, it's one degree of separation here in Smalltimore, an urban Mayberry where everyone knows everyone. Then you read the newspaper and rediscover that there are really two Baltimores. Rich and poor. White and black. Ours. Theirs.

A man was found shot to death in the 2300 block of East Lombard Street late last night. Police arrived at the scene after a neighbor reported hearing a gunshot in the area. Those with information are asked to call . . .

This appeared, as most such items appear, inside the Beacon Light's Local section, part of something called the "City/County Digest." These are the little deaths, as my girlfriend, Tess Monaghan, calls them, the homicides that merit no more than one or two paragraphs. A man was found shot to death in an alley in the 700 block of Stricker Street. . . . A man was killed by shots from a passing car in the 1400 block of East Madison Street. . . . A Southwest Baltimore man was found dead inside his Cadillac Escalade in the 300 block of North Mount. If they have the victim's name, they give it. If there are witnesses or arrests, the fact is noted for the sheer wonder of it. "Witness" is the city's most dangerous occupation these days, homicide's thriving secondary market, if you will. We're down on snitchin' here in Baltimore and have the T-shirts and videos to prove it. Want to know how bad things have gotten? There was a hit ordered on a ten-year-old girl who had the misfortune to see her own father killed.

Here's what is not written, although everyone knows the score: Another young black man has died. He probably deserved it. Drug dealer or drug user. Or maybe just in the wrong place at the wrong time, but he should have known better than to hang around a drug corner at that time, right? If you want the courtesy of being presumed innocent in certain Baltimore neighborhoods, you better be unimpeachable, someone clearly, unambiguously cut down in the cross fire. A three-year-old getting his birthday haircut. A ten-year-old playing football. I wish these examples were hypothetical.

I'm not claiming that I was different from anyone else in Baltimore, that I read those paragraphs and wondered about the lives that preceded the deaths. No, I made the same calculations that everyone else did, plotting the city's grid in my head, checking to make sure I wasn't at risk. Shot in a movie theater for telling someone to be quiet? Sure, absolutely, that could happen to me, although there aren't a lot of tough guys in the local art houses. Killed for flipping someone off in traffic? Not my style, but Tess could have died a thousand times over that way. She has a problem with impulse control.

But we're not to be found along East Lombard or Stricker or Mount or any other dubious street, not at 3:00 a.m. Even when I am in those neighborhoods, people leave my ride and me alone. Usually. And it's not because I'm visibly such a nice guy on a do-gooding mission. They don't bother me because I'm not worth the trouble. I'm a red ball walking; kill me and all the resources of the city's homicide division will be brought to bear on the investigation. I'll get more than a paragraph, too.

In fact, I think I'd get almost as much coverage as Gregory Youssef, a federal prosecutor found stabbed to death last year. Perhaps I should carry a clipping of that case, too, for it was really Youssef's death that changed my life, although I didn't know it at the time. But I'm not likely to forget Youssef's death soon. Nobody is.

The hard part would be fitting me into a headline. Artist? Musician? Only for my own amusement these days. Restaurant-bar manager? Doesn't really get the flavor of what I do at the Point, which is a bar, but increasingly a very good music venue as well, thanks to the out-of-town bands I've been recruiting. Scion of a prominent Charlottesville family? Even if I were confident I could pronounce "scion" correctly, I'm more confident that I would never pronounce myself as such. Boyfriend of Tess Monaghan, perhaps Baltimore's best-known private investigator? Um, no thank you. I love her madly, but that's not how I wish to be defined.


Excerpted from No Good Deeds by Laura Lippman Copyright © 2006 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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No Good Deeds 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 17 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This really is one of the best in this series in my opinion. I loved getting to know more about Crow and the introduction of Lloyd adds one more interesting character to the cast.
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Doctor96 More than 1 year ago
I've always been drawn to books, fiction or non-fiction, that focus on culture. That's led me to Tony Hillerman, the glorious Southwest, and his wonderful portrayal of the Navajo culture. It's led me to James Lee Burke and the intense heat of Louisiana where I can see the large triangle of sweat on Clet's broad back. And now it's led me to Laura Lippman and her love of all things Bal-mor. True, the city doesn't carry the same cachet as the Southwest or Louisiana, but Lippman brings out the very real charm of its streets from the beautiful Inner Harbor to its abandoned factories. Her stories have good plot lines, are well written and real. As one who lives close to Baltimore, but rarely visits, every time I read a Lippman novel, I remind myself that I really do need to get to know it better.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
I've enjoyed the Tess novels, but this is not a Tess novel. It should be described as a Crow and his guilt novel. Lippman misses the mark. Lippman changes the format. Instead of the story being told from Tess' perspective (as with previous novels), this has many characters' narratives. I didn't like this at all. Crow and his rich, liberal, white man's guilt was a torture to read. I found Crow so insufferable, that I found myself wishing for his demise. It will take a lot for me to enjoy him again, and I don't hold out much hope that that will ever happen. Crow spent all of his time whining. What an idiot. And could he be more condescending? I don't think so, except when showcasing his liberal elitism. Lloyd was unsympathetic. Didn't like him, didn't care for him, could have cared less about him and his 'plight'. What a yawner this book was. Instead of getting a good mystery novel, I got a lecture of Lippman's liberal social/economic philosophy. I can handle not agreeing with an author's politics, sometimes it makes for great reading. And the story was great when Tess was actually investigating. The problem is that those special times were few and far between. The mystery was just something for Tess to do as a respite from lecturing. But even then, this story was all about Crow, and his guilt, and his money, and his guilt, etc. And the answer to Crow's money mystery had me laugh out loud. Could it have been more obvious? No. I just laughed and rolled my eyes. Hey Crow, why don't you just donate those riches of ill gotten gain anonymously? No, you'd rather whine about it while it sits in the bank. Blah, blah, blah. Tess is such a great character. So sad that this story was more Crow and his causes and his liberal elitism than actual Tess sleuthing. I hope that Lippman gets back to the formula that I fell in love with, because I did not enjoy this change. I feel cheated. Ugh. Please shove Crow back where he belongs in the background, being a sounding board for Tess.
Guest More than 1 year ago
In Baltimore, Edgar 'Crow' Ransome takes home fifteen year old Lloyd Jupiter who he met outside a soup kitchen when the homeless teen offered to change his flat tire for five bucks Crow assumes the kid slashed his tire, but counteroffers with a warm bed and three square meals at the bungalow he shares with private investigator Tess Monaghan.---------- Lloyd frightens Tess when it becomes apparent that the teen knows plenty about Assistant US Attorney Gregory Youssef, recently found murdered. Tess persuades the teenager to tell all he knows to Beacon-Light reporter Marcy Appleton. When one of Lloyd¿s pals is murdered, Crow takes the kid with him into hiding in Delaware as he believes anyone associated with the perverted side of Youssef is a target. Assistant US Attorney Gabe Dalesio, FBI Agent Barry Jenkins, and DEA operative Mike Collins demand Tess to name her source or else face the full impact of the law and the illegal contempt of other means they have at their disposal in this post nine-eleven world.----------------- As always in a Monaghan thriller (see BY A SPIDER¿S THREAD), Baltimore is the star as readers see two cities side by side one a depressing putrefying loser and the other an optimistic bright light. Monaghan is terrific as is the Feds who uses extreme pressure including threats to jail her loved ones (similar to the ¿threat¿ to take away Steele¿s adopted Romanian son during the Starr investigation into Clinton) to force the heroine to talk. Crow's interest in Lloyd seems off kilter until a too late revelation explains all still fans will agree that in this case NO GOOD DEEDS rewards fans with a fine political mystery.----- Harriet Klausner
Guest More than 1 year ago
The book NO GOOD DEEDS by Laura Lippman is a must read for anyone living in mid -Atlantic America. This author is from Baltimore, and writes about the area with the knowledge of the former newspaper reporter that she has been for years. She has her locations, local population, and story line reading very much like a local Balitimorian. She is taking off on the recent true mystery of a local Maryland State's Prosecutor, who was found dead along the side of the road off of I-95 towards New Jersey. Many people in this book are not who they may seem to be at first glance. Alertness is next to godliness if you wish to survive alive till tomorrow!! Lippman then expertly fictionalizes this story to a conclusion. Something that rarely happens to the 'average Joe' in the death files of Baltimore. Tess, a local detective, and her boyfriend, Crow, have inadvertently taken on a local teen Lloyd. Lloyd is living on the streets, and has tried to make a days earning by 'slashing, and then being handy to change the unfortunate rich person's tire' scheme with Crow's car. Lippman gets Lloyd's background, motivations, desperations, fears, and lovability written into her story perfectly. Throughout the book, Tess, Crow AND the reader want to lock Lloyd in a room, shelter him from the cruel world, hug him and feed him, protect him from murderers, shoot him for including you with him in his flawed world, and just generally take him under your wing while understanding that you can only influence him so much. Lloyd is very much, 'I'll survive and I'll do it my way....don't know how just now, but I'll keep at it till I make it or die.' I defy any reader to finish the book without falling in love with 'Lloyd'. It is a race to solve the mystery, help Lloyd decide that life is worth striving for, and remaining sane and true to yourself also. But your 'good deeds' may get you both killed !!! What a rush of a read!!!!