By A Spider's Thread

By A Spider's Thread


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Mark Rubin's family is missing -- and the police won't do a thing because all the evidence indicates his wife left willingly. The successful furrier turns to Tess Monaghan, hoping she can help him find his wife and three children. Tess doesn't know what to make of Rubin, a wealthy Orthodox Jew who doles out vitally important information in grudging dribs and drabs. According to Rubin, he and his beautiful wife, Natalie, had a flawless, happy marriage. Yet one day, without any warning or explanation, Natalie gathered up their children and vanished.

Tess is able to locate the runaway wife and her stolen progeny, moving furtively from state to state, town to town, but the Rubins are not alone. A man is traveling with them -- a stranger, described as "handsome" and "charming" but otherwise unremarkable to casual observers who have no way of sensing the fury beneath his smooth surface.

An intricate web of betrayal and vengeance is already beginning to unravel, as memory begets rage and rage leads to desperation ... and murder. Suddenly much more than one man's future happiness and stubborn pride are in peril; the lives of three innocent children are dangling by the slenderest of threads.

Performed by Linda Emond

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781419307645
Publisher: Recorded Books, LLC
Publication date: 02/02/2005
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 1.50(h) x 5.00(d)

About the Author

LAURA LIPPMAN has been awarded every major prize in crime fiction. The recipient of the first Mayor's Prize, she lives in Baltimore, Maryland, and New Orleans, Louisiana, with her husband, David Simon, and their 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

By a Spider's Thread

By Lippman, Laura

William Morrow & Company

ISBN: 0060506695

Chapter One


They were in one of the "I" states when Zeke told Isaac he had to ride in the trunk for a little while. Zeke announced this new plan in what Isaac thought of as his fakey voice, big and hollow, with too much air in it. This was the voice Zeke used whenever Isaac's mother was nearby. He used a very different one when she couldn't hear.

"You brought this on yourself, buckaroo," Zeke said, securing the suitcases to the roof of the car, then making a nest in the center of the trunk. When Isaac just stared at the space that had been created, not sure what Zeke wanted him to do, Zeke picked him up under the arms, swinging him into the hole as if Isaac weighed nothing at all. "See, plenty of room."

"Put down a blanket," Isaac's mother said, but she didn't object to the trunk idea, didn't say it was wrong or that she wouldn't allow it. She didn't even mind that Zeke had stolen the blanket from the motel room. She just stood there with Penina and Efraim huddled close to her, looking disappointed. That was the last thing Isaac saw before Zeke closed the trunk: his mother's face, sad and stern, as if Isaac were the bad one, as if he had caused all the trouble. So unfair. He was the one who was trying to do the right thing.

The trunk was bigger than Isaac expected, and he was not as frightened as he thought he would be. It was too bad it was such an old car. A new one, like his father's, might have an emergency light inside, or even a way to spring the lock. His father had shown him these features in his car after he found Isaac playing with the buttons on his key ring -- popping the trunk, locking and unlocking the Cadillac's doors. Isaac's mother had yelled, saying the key ring wasn't a toy, that he would break it or burn out the batteries, but Isaac's father had shown Isaac everything about his new car, even under the hood. That was his father's way. "Curiosity didn't kill the cat," his father said. "Not getting answers to his questions was what got the cat in trouble." His father had even shut himself in the trunk and shown Isaac how to get out again.

But this car was old, very old, the oldest car Isaac had ever known, probably older than Isaac. It didn't have airbags, or enough seat belts in the backseat. Isaac kept hoping a policeman might pull them over one day because of the seat belts. Or maybe a toll taker would report his mother for holding one of the twins in her lap in the front seat, which she did when they fussed. But there were no tolls here, not on the roads that Zeke drove. Isaac was trying so hard to keep track -- they had started out in Indiana, and then they went to Illinois, but Isaac was pretty sure that they had come back to Indiana in the past week. Or they could still be in Illinois, or even as far west as Iowa. It was hard to see differences here in the middle of the country, where everything was yellow and the towns had strange names that were hard to pronounce.

It was hard to tell time, too, without school marking the days off, without a calendar on the kitchen wall, without Shabbat reminding you that another week had ended. Would God understand about missing Shabbat? If God knew everything, did he know it wasn't Isaac's fault that he wasn't going to yeshiva? Or was it up to Isaac to find a way to pray no matter what, the way his father did when he traveled for business? Now, this was the kind of conversation his father loved. He would have started pulling books from the shelves in his study, looking for various rabbis' opinions. And, whatever the answer was, his father would have made Isaac feel okay, would have assured him that he was doing his best, which was all God expected. That was his father's way, to answer Isaac's questions and make him feel better.

His father knew everything, or close enough. He knew history and the Torah, math and science. He knew lots of terrific old war movies and westerns, and the names of all the Orioles, past and present. Best of all, he could talk about the night sky as if it were a story in a book, telling the stories that the Greeks and Indians had told themselves when they looked at the same stars.

"Does Orion ever catch the bull?" Isaac had asked his father once. Of course, that had been when he was little, six or seven. He was nine now, going into the fourth grade, or supposed to be. He wouldn't ask such a question now.

"Not yet," his father had said, "but you never know. After all, if the universe is really shrinking, he may catch up with him still."

That had scared Isaac, the part about the universe shrinking, but his father had said it wasn't something he needed to worry about. But Isaac worried about everything, especially now. He worried about Lyme disease and West Nile virus and whether Washington, D.C., would get a baseball team, which his dad said might not be so good for the Orioles. He worried about the twins, who had started talking this weird not-quite-English to each other.

Mostly, though, he worried about Zeke and how to get away from him.

Despite being locked in the trunk, bouncing and bumping down the road, Isaac wasn't sorry that he had tried to talk to the guard man. His only mistake was letting his mother see him do it. If the line in the bank had been longer, if it hadn't moved so fast, he might have had time to explain himself. Why did lines move fast only when you didn't want them to?


Excerpted from By a Spider's Thread by Lippman, Laura 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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By a Spider's Thread 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 34 reviews.
Anonymous 29 days ago
Mark Rubin’s wife, Natalie and their three children are missing and the police will not help because the evidence states she left willingly. Mark hires private investigator Tess Monaghan to try to find his family. Tess locates the family but there is a mysterious man traveling with them. Mark is withholding information from Tess preventing her from continuing to the investigation. And the peril of the three children are hanging by a thread. This wonderfully written story will keep you in suspense until the end.
Buecherwurm161 4 months ago
A Bit of a slow start. I won a copy of this book in a giveaway, and even though I was not familiar with the series I was eager to get started on the book, having heard great things about Laura Lippman. I have to say I was worried if I would get lost since it is an ongoing series, but I didn't have too many problems following along, I was just short some of the backstories. The book had a slow start for me but it did pick up eventually and I hadn't guess the ending which is always nice. Maybe because I was not familiar with the series I did not warm to the characters as much as I might have had I followed Tess from the beginning, but overall the book was well written and entertaining. I would definitely read other books by the author.
smik on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Mark Rubin's family is missing -- and the police can't do a thing because all the evidence indicates that his wife left willingly. So the successful furrier turns to Tess Monaghan, hoping she can help him find his wife and three children. Tess doesn't know quite what to make of Rubin, a wealthy Orthodox Jew who refuses to shake her hand and doles out vitally important information in grudging dribs and drabs. According to her client, he and his beautiful wife, Natalie, had a flawless, happy marriage. Yet one day, without any warning or explanation, Natalie gathered up their children and vanished.Tapping into a network of fellow investigators spread across the country, Tess is soon able to locate the runaway wife and her stolen progeny, moving furtively from state to state, town to town. But the Rubins are not alone. A man is traveling with them, a stranger described by witnesses as "handsome" and "charming" but otherwise unremarkable to these casual observers, who have no way of sensing the fury beneath his smooth surface.
memasmb on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Nicely woven story of deception between family members that date back years and years. A wife flees with her children and leaves her Orthodox Jewish husband with no warning. The story follows the husband hiring a private detective, Tess Monaghan to find his wife and three children. Good paced book and easy to read.
sumariotter on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I enjoy all of Laura Lippman's mysteries that I've read--primarily because of the way she fleshes out her detective's personal life and all of the details about Baltimore in the novels. They are always engrossingly suspenseful, without being too scary or bleak. I particularily enjoyed this one, because of the character development of Mark Rubin, an Orthodox Jew, and the developing rapport between he and Tess in spite of their differences.
nbmars on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is the eighth book in the Tess Monaghan detective series, and rather anomalous. The emphasis in this book is not on Tess, now 33, although she of course plays a (minor) role. Rather, it is on her client, Mark Rubin, and his life as an Orthodox Jew: what does it mean to live in this fashion? I would classify this as a ¿social¿ crime novel.Rubin comes to Tess requesting that she find his wife and three children, who have disappeared. The police have determined there was no foul play, and thus will not take on the case. But Rubin can¿t believe his wife would have left him voluntarily; he wants to find out what really happened.Much of the story concerns Tess¿s efforts to understand the insulated community of her client¿s world, so that she can ascertain what may or may not have happened. She also sees it as a chance to find out more about her own background: Theresa Esther Weinstein Monaghan is half Jewish and half Irish Catholic, but without any real knowledge of either heritage. Now, she has the opportunity to find out more.Interspersed with Mark¿s story, we follow that of his wife Natalie (formerly Natasha) and her three children, as they go on a journey with consequences they have not anticipated. In particular, we get to know Isaac, the oldest son, who is brave and loyal and smart enough to provide lots of unwitting assistance to Tess and Mark.Discussion: Tess goes through a number of reactions in this book. At first, she is hostile toward this orthodox man, finding him harsh and rigid. As they get more comfortable with one another and let down their defenses, they discover that they can actually accept and even like each other. It¿s a lovely minuet.Lippman also nicely blends in one of the characters, Police Detective Nancy Porter, from her standalone novel, Every Single Thing. It¿s a fun touch for readers who have been following her books in order.In this book too, Tess for the first time taps into the new national internet-driven network of female investigators called SnoopSisters. Set up by Gretchen O¿Brien, a character from a previous book, this network provides indispensable help for Tess in locating Natalie. Lippman includes the emails of this group as part of the text, providing a fun look at the interactions of these women.Evaluation: This novel has a great deal of information to offer about a number of aspects of different cultures about which the reader may be unaware. Although we don¿t spend much time examining Tess and her life, we gain a lot in the trade.
GJbean on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Excellent female private eye novel with Jewish twist. Very entertaining, funny and suspensful.
SilversReviews on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Definitely keeps your interest, and all the surprises as the book ends will amaze in the world can someone even think of ideas and twists and turns and connections is beyond me.The book was very good...not only the story, but how the love of family takes top priority no matter what the situation is. It wasn't suspenseful in the true sense, but you wanted to keep going to see what happens.ENJOY!!
reannon on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
In this volume of the Tess Monahan series, Tess is investigating the disappearance of the wife and three children of an Orthodox Jewish man in Baltimore. The story follows both the investigation and the travels of the disappeared. Good story, not quite as strong as the one before it in the series, but good.
markatread on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I read Baltimore Blues several months ago, the first novel in the Tess Monaghan series. By A Spider's Thread is the 8th in that series. In the first book Tess was uncertain, frustating, and frutrated, in short she was a very compelling character to read about. In fact she was the very best thing in the first book. The plot was choppy and and had trouble getting out of it's own way at times. This time the mystery is really seamless and there are very few gaps in the plotting of the book. There are 2 minor quibbles but it is a solid mystery and the characters all move along well. Tess is growing up and not nearly as frustrating to the reader or frustrated by her own life like she was in Baltimore Blues. But in growing up - in becoming confident in what she does and who she is - she is also less fun to read about; she is less compelling . The author, Laura Lippman, does something that doesn't happen very often in this genre. At a critical moment in the book, it is one of the male characters who saves Tess and then again in the final confrontation with the bad guy, it is a child that has the ability to see the last clue. In so many mystery novels it is usually the hero that does these things. I give the author a lot of credit for doing this. Tess is not always the stongest, quickest, or smartest. And while Tess may not be quite as compelling in this book as she was in Baltimore Blues, maybe Laura Lippman is more compelling as a writer than she was when she wrote Baltimore Blues.
oldbookswine on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Tess is hired to find a furrier 's missing family. Orthoddox Jew, Rubin does not want the police involved "should the community find out". As Tess investigates she finds herself in several family situations that finally leads her to an unusual solution to the mystery.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have read the first seven and just finished this one. I really like the characters and this mystery was very, very good. JUst the kind of read I like :)
Knitmama More than 1 year ago
Once I read the first book in this series, I was hooked and proceeded to read them in order. Now I want to visit Baltimore!
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