Butchers Hill (Tess Monaghan Series #3)

Butchers Hill (Tess Monaghan Series #3)

by Laura Lippman


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780062400628
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 06/09/2015
Series: Tess Monaghan Series , #3
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 368
Sales rank: 205,453
Product dimensions: 5.20(w) x 7.80(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

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.


Baltimore, Maryland

Date of Birth:

January 31, 1959

Place of Birth:

Atlanta, Georgia


B.S., Medill School of Journalism, Northwestern University, 1981

Read an Excerpt

Butchers Hill LP
A Tess Monaghan Novel

Chapter One

Tess Monaghan's blotter-size appointment calendar was the largest, whitest space she had ever contemplated. Thirty boxes of June days, vast as the Siberian steppes, stretching across her desk until it seemed as if there were room for nothing else. She thought she might go blind staring at it, yet she couldn't tear her gaze away. Thirty perfect squares, all awaiting things to do and places to go, and only today's, the fourth, had a single mark on it:
9:30. Beale
10:30: Browne
(SuperFresh: Dog food)

There was also a doodle in the lower left-hand comer, which she thought a pretty good likeness of a man in a wheelchair taking a long roll off a short pier. In terrible taste, of course, unless one recognized the man as her erstwhile employer, Tyner Gray, in which case the drawing took on a droll charm.

She had told Tyner that June wasn't the right time to open her own office, but he had pushed and nagged as usual, promising enough work from his law office to carry her through those early dry months. At her darker moments -- this one would qualify -- she believed all he had really wanted was to free up a desk for his summer clerk.

Well, she had only opened for business last week. One expected things to be a little slow just after Memorial Day weekend. Then again, July and August would be quieter still, as most of Baltimore escaped to Ocean City and the Delaware beaches.

"But not us, Esskay. We're working girls," she told her greyhound, who was doing a fair imitation of a Matisse odalisque from her post on the lumpy mauve sofa. "The Pink Nude." No, "The Black, Hairy Nudewith the Pinkish Belly." A one-time racer, Esskay was now a world-champion napper, putting in about eighteen hours a day between the sofa here and the bed at home. Esskay could afford to sleep. She didn't have overhead.

Overhead -- now there was a wonderfully apt word. Tess was over her head all right, deep in debt and sinking a little more each day. So far, her Quicken accounting program showed only outgo at Tess Monaghan, Inc., technically Keyes Investigations, Inc. The business took its name from a retired city cop whose credential was essential if Tess wanted to operate as a licensed private detective in the state of Maryland. She had never actually met Edward Keyes, who put in the incorporation papers in return for a small percentage of her profits. She hoped he was a patient man.

But now her first prospective client, a Mr. Beale, was due in ten minutes. She suspected he would be pathologically punctual, given that he had literally tried to be here yesterday. He had called just after eight the night before, as if his need for a private detective were a craving that required instant gratification. Tess, who had stayed late in a futile attempt to make her new office look more officelike, wasn't in a position to turn down any client, but she thought it wiser to let this one stew in his own juices overnight. Or unstew, as the case may be. Beale had sounded the slightest bit drunk over the phone, his words pronounced with the elaborate care of the inebriated. Tess had given him a nine-thirty appointment, after much ostentatious fretting about the havoc it would wreak in her busy, busy day. Yes indeed, she had cut her morning workout by almost thirty minutes, rowing her Alden racing shell only as far as Fort McHenry.

Last night, in the almost-summer twilight, the office had looked clean and professional, a few easy touches away from being a first-class operation. Today, with bright sun slanting through the plate glass window, it looked like what it was -- the bottom floor of a too-often-renovated rowhouse in one of the iffier blocks on Butchers Hill. Almost 100 years old, the building had long ago buckled with fatigue, its linoleum floors rippling like tide pools, the doors and the jambs barely on speaking terms. Eggshell paint, even three coats, could only do so much.

If Tess had more money, she might have done better by the old storefront, bringing in real furniture instead of family castoffs. Of course, if she had more money she would have taken a better place in a better neighborhood, a bonafide office with wooden floors, exposed brick walls, maybe a harbor view. In nicer surroundings, her junk could have achieved funk status. Here, it was just junk.

Her Aunt Kitty's office-warming gift of framed family photographs, seemingly so whimsical and inspired, only made things worse. What type of businesswoman had a tinted photograph of herself smeared with chocolate, holding fast to the neck of a coin-operated flying rabbit while her grandmother tried to pry her off? Impulsively, Tess yanked this off the wall, only to be reminded that the enlarged photo hid the small wall safe, where her gun rested in solitary confinement. Petty cash would be housed there, too, as soon as she had some.

A hand rapped at the door, with such force it sounded as if it might crash through the glass pane at its center. Eager-beaver Beale, ten minutes early by the neon "It's Time for a Haircut" barbershop clock that hung on the wall, another contribution from her aunt. "Come in," Tess shouted over her shoulder, looking around quickly to see if there was anything else she could hang over the safe. The doorknob rattled impatiently, reminding her that she kept it locked, a sad but necessary precaution in Butchers Hill.

"Right there," she said, placing the picture back on the wall. She could find something more appropriate later. Poker-playing dogs were always nice.

"Miss Monaghan?"

Butchers Hill LP
A Tess Monaghan Novel
. Copyright © by Laura Lippman. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Table of Contents

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Butcher's Hill 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 59 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Living in Maryland, Lippman's books are fun to relate to the places in her books. The stories are intriguing enough to keep my interest, but not necessarily challenging or thought provoking. Her characters are believable and situations are believable which makes them fun reads.
adp3d More than 1 year ago
I got introduced to Tess Monaghan when the first of the series, "Baltimore Blues" was offered as an ebook for 99 cents and now I'm hooked. Ms. Lippman presents a good cast of characters amidst the background of the city of Baltimore with its unique landmarks. I enjoy reading her and will do more of it in the future.
ctfrench on LibraryThing 5 months ago
Private investigator Tess Monaghan¿s first official client is Luther Beale, known as the Butcher of Butchers Hill. Five years earlier, Luther was imprisoned for shooting a young boy vandalizing his car, and Luther wants Tess to find the children who witnessed the shooting so he can make amends to them. Almost immediately, two of those children are found murdered and the police target Beale as the killer. Tess¿s second case, which becomes a parallel investigation, involves a sophisticated fundraiser who wants Tess to find the child her sister gave up for adoption thirteen years earlier. Tess soon finds herself chasing clues on two cases based on deception, one of which will lead Tess back to her own childhood. Tess Monaghan is a refreshing character; an athletic woman with flawed characteristics and a dysfunctional family who strives to do the ethical thing. Lippman provides two mysteries based on misconceptions and falsehoods which the reader will enjoy trying to solve along with Tess.
cyderry on LibraryThing 5 months ago
Tess Monaghan has finally hung out her shingle but her new office is not in the best area of Baltimore. On one of her first days in operation, Tess has two new clients - Jackie and Luther Beale. Jackie wants to hire Tess to find the daughter she gave up for adoption 13 years ago. Luther Beale, known as the Butcher of Butcher's Hill wants to find five children who were friends of the boy he was convicted of killing. He wants to make restitution. Both cases appear pretty straight forward but they turn out to be far from it.Jackie's case brings Tess face to face with facts that may be hard for her to reconcile emotionally and Luther case gets a bit dangerous. I found it interesting the way that the story was woven together even though they were separate cases.It was a bit slow in some spots, but overall an interesting combination. I still enjoy seeing the references of my hometown , though listening on audio, I tend to want to correct the pronunciations at times.
nbmars on LibraryThing 5 months ago
In Book Three of the Tess Monaghan Detective Series, twenty-nine year old Tess has finally opened her own office as a private investigator in the so-called ¿Butchers Hill¿ section of Baltimore. As its name suggests, Butchers Hill was once home to butchers and poultry preparers, but obviously the name also lends itself nicely to a description of criminals whenever any murders are committed in the neighborhood. Tess has her initial two clients on the same morning. The first is a 66-year-old neighborhood black man known as Luther ¿the Butcher¿ Beale, who had served prison time after he shot at a group of taunting young kids and one of the boys died. He tells Tess he wants her to find the other kids, so he can help the remaining children out as an act of ¿retribution.¿ This will be tough; the kids were foster children, and Luther doesn¿t even know their names.Tess¿s second client seems to present an easier task. The well-dressed young black woman asks her to find an estranged sister named Susan King.Tess runs into a number of problems, not the least of which is that both of her clients have hidden agendas. Moreover, she has trouble getting information from blacks who won¿t talk to a white woman. She has to delve into the matter of shady adoption businesses, and then there are all those dead bodies of people related to the two cases that keep piling up¿Discussion: Lippman seems more relaxed in this third book of her Tess Monaghan series. Tess¿s sense of humor is coming out more, as is her obsession with food ¿ apparently the character used to have an eating disorder, and there is some question as to whether it is actually gone. And in fact, her waxing rhapsodic over Baltimore¿s Berger cookies struck a familiar chord, as my husband has been hearing me do that for years. Her disquisition on eating peanuts in the shell is right on:"Have you ever noticed how, in every batch of peanuts you eat, there¿s one that¿s almost perfect?¿ she asked, opening a triple pod. `It¿s roasted a little darker than the rest, has an almost piquant flavor. So you eat dozens more, looking for one that has that same strong, roasted flavor and instead, you find one that¿s acrid and shriveled, which cancels out the perfect one, so you eat dozens more, trying to regain your equilibrium, and next thing you know you have peanut belly, all swollen and bloated, and you still haven¿t found that elusive, perfect peanut.¿Much of the humor is related to the character's history as a literature major in college. When her Uncle Donald introduces her to a source who prefers to remain anonymous as ¿Mr. Mole,¿ she had me laughing out loud at her response:"¿What, are we playing Wind in the Willows all of the sudden?¿ Tess asked. `Dibbs on being Mr. Toad.¿¿Evaluation: The Tess Monoghan series is quite entertaining. This particular book won the Agatha and Anthony awards. I love the setting and supporting cast, and look forward to finding out what happens next with Tess¿s life.
Bookmarque on LibraryThing 5 months ago
An early Tess novel, not bad, nothing spectacular. I guess I¿ve been reading too many of these genre novels to enjoy them much anymore. There¿s a lot of characterization here and I still do like Tess and her weird family. I also weirdly liked ¿Mary Brown¿ and hoped she wouldn¿t go all psychotic there in the end. I understand kind of why she would go off the rails, but I¿m glad it didn¿t get out of hand. Willa Mott was a piece of work and I quite liked how that unfolded.
jenforbus on LibraryThing 5 months ago
Butchers Hill is the third book in the Tess Monaghan series. Tess has moved into her own "shop" and acquired two clients: Luther and Jackie. Luther is paying Tess to find a group of teenagers who were friends with the boy Luther was convicted of shooting. Jackie wants Tess to help her find the daughter she gave up for adoption thirteen years ago. On the surface, both cases appear to be pretty straight forward. O.k., Luther wanting to find the friends of the boy he shot is kind of weird, but all in all, they are both cases involving a simple job of finding people. However, that wouldn't make for much of a crime fiction novel, now would it? Both cases turn out to be far more complex: Jackie's case starts to hit very close to home for Tess, and Luther's case turns deadly. Both cases examine the ugliness of the child welfare system and the inequality that only harms the children trapped there.I listened to Butchers Hill on audio book, and the reader was Deborah Hazlett. I enjoy Deborah's readings, and she did a very nice job with Tess. Her ability to express a character's emotion is a great asset with a book such as this one.Tess is a fun character and I have enjoyed the books I've read with her. Her family is dysfunctional (I can definitely empathize with the grandmother situation); she has her quirks and imperfections; and her humor adds a lot to the novels. The plot of Butchers Hill deals with some "issues" in the "system" that really aren't new issues, but rather ones no one seems to know how - or want - to fix. I found myself admiring the way that Lippman would present arguments from each side of a racial issue. She definitely set the scene for such issues by placing Tess (a white, female, Jew) smack in the middle of a predominantly African-American neighborhood. In each side you can see holes in the logic, but at the same time, you can understand where both of the arguments are coming from. She did a nice job with that. It's not an easy area to write about without risking offending someone.Because of the content of the plot, it is a slower moving book. There really is no action to speed up the tempo. I wouldn't say the book was predictable, at least for me it wasn't. But there were a few components of the plot that seemed to come out of the blue and also a few that were a tad bit on the cliche side. I can't elaborate too much more without including spoilers in my review, though.As with Charm City, I enjoyed Butchers Hill. There wasn't anything about it that completely knocked me off my feet, but it was a fun book and a great one for the car rides to work. I'll definitely read more in the Tess Monaghan series.
reannon on LibraryThing 5 months ago
Third in a series about Tess Monaghan. A man who spent time in jail for shooting a young boy, one of five kids stealing and trashing his place comes to Tess to find the other kids who were there that night. He tells her he wants to give them money; as foster kids they haven't had a good life. But things get hairy when those other kids start turning up dead.Good read.
jepeters333 on LibraryThing 6 months ago
Tess Monaghan has finally made the move and hung out her shingle as a PI-for-hire, complete with an office in Butchers Hill. Maybe it's not the best address in Baltimore, but you gotta start somewhere and Tess' greyhound Esskay has no trouble taking marathon naps anywhere there's a roof. Then, in walks Luther Beale, the notorious vigilante who five years ago shot a boy for vandalizing his car. Just out of prison, he says he wants to make reparations to the kids who witnessed his crime, so he needs Tess to find them. But once she starts snooping, the witnesses start dying.
jaimelesmaths on LibraryThing 8 months ago
Continued improvement in the series here. A bit more reliant on coincidence for the ending, but good buildup of suspense before that.
birds123_74 More than 1 year ago
To dry and very boring.
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Kat2011OK More than 1 year ago
I love this series of books. Kept me guessing through the whole book. I am looking forward to reading more.
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