In Big Trouble (Tess Monaghan Series #4)

In Big Trouble (Tess Monaghan Series #4)

by Laura Lippman


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780062400642
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 06/09/2015
Series: Tess Monaghan Series , #4
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 416
Sales rank: 342,339
Product dimensions: 5.31(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.94(d)

About the Author

Since LAURA LIPPMAN’s debut, she has won multiple awards and critical acclaim for provocative, timely crime novels set in her beloved hometown of Baltimore. Laura has been nominated for more than fifty awards for crime fiction and won almost twenty, including the Edgar. Her books have been translated into more than twenty languages. Now a perennial New York Times bestselling author, she lives in Baltimore and New Orleans 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

Chapter One

Tess Monaghan hated surveillance work, something of a problem for someone who made her living as a private investigator. Do what you love and you'll love what you do, they told her. Well, she loved everything else about her job. Loved being her own boss, loved being her only employee. She was even starting to love her gun, which she knew was kind of creepy. Unfortunately, surveillance work was a private investigator's bread-and-butter, and she loathed every minute of it, especially in the cause of romantic disputes. Besides, it was just so passive. All her life, she had hated waiting for things to happen. She yearned to be an instigator. Yet here she was again, slouched down in the front seat of her car, camera ready to document someone else's bad behavior.

She stared at the faded plaster king who welcomed guests to the Enchanted Castle Motor Court on Route 40. Time had not been kind to him — his purple coat had whitish spots that made it appear as if it were motheaten, his face was pitted, and one eye had faded away, so his once-genial smile was now more of a leer. Still, he made her feel nostalgic, for Maryland's past and for her own. There was a time, almost in her memory', when Route 40 was the major east-west highway across the state of Maryland and these kinds of campy stucco cottages had beckoned to travelers with neon promises of air-cooled rooms and fresh pies in the diner.

As for Tess, she had lost her own virginity in this particular motor court, at the allegedly sweet age of sixteen. The wine had been sweet at least. Mogen David, hijacked from her Gramma Weinstein's Sederalmost two months earlier, because teenage Tess had been methodical about her bad behavior. The younger version was always plotting, looking ahead to the night when she could just get it over with — first drunk, first dope, first sex — mark another milestone on her path to adulthood. Why had she been in such a hurry? She couldn't even remember now. Anyway, it hadn't been bad, it hadn't been good. In fact, it wasn't unlike her early rowing practices. Sore muscles you didn't even know you had on the day after. But it got better, and she got better at it. Just like rowing.

This was the part she remembered the best: The motor court's diner had still been open then and afterwards she had blueberry pie, hot, with vanilla ice cream, the chubby king smiling benignly at her through the glass. That had been just perfect. To this day, blueberry pie made her blush. Now the diner was just a rusting a minum shell. Despite the reputation fostered by the film Diner, Baltimore had a severe diner deficit, if you didn't count the modem, ersatz ones, and Tess sure didn't. "Where have you gone, Barry Levinson?" she sang softly to herself. "Charm City lifts its hungry eyes to you." No more diners, no more tin men. No Johnny U's Golden Arm, no Gino's, no Hot Shoppes Jr.'s, no Little Taverns.

Great, her litany of fast-food ghosts had made her hungry. And her right leg was cramping up. She eased the driver's seat back, tried to massage her hamstring, but a twelve-year-old Toyota Corolla just didn't afford much room when you were five-foot-nine and most of it was inseam. Damn, she hated surveillance work. She tried to make it a rule not to take such assignments, but principles had to be suspended sometimes in light of certain economic realities. Or, in this case, when a certain friend had promised her services without asking first.

At least the client was a woman. She was a sexist about this, no other word. But in her experience, cuck-olded men tended toward violence against others, and she didn't want that on her conscience. Women were masochists, dangers to themselves. Usually. Tess looked at this it way: Four thousand years after the Greeks, Medea would still be front-page news, while feckless Jason wouldn't even rate a question in Cosmo's Agony column.

Not that women's cases weren't lose-lose propositions in their own way. If you didn't get the goods on hubby, some women didn't want to pay for the time put in, they didn't get that a job had been done, even if it had yielded no results. These were the kind of women who tipped poorly in restaurants, on the theory that they provided food service all the time without compensation.

But if you did turn over a discreet set of photographs of hubby leaving, say, a motor court on Route 40, a redhead giantess in tow, the kill-the-messenger syndrome kicked in — literally. One cheated-on wife had aimed her neat little Papagallo pump at Tess's shin. Tess had counted to ten, left the suburban palace that was about to loom large in the divorce case, and discreetly let all the air out of the tires on the woman's Jeep Cherokee.

So she charged more now. She told would-be clients it was because surveillance work was a bore, which was true, but it was really the aftermath she hated, the moment of truth, which was anything but boring. "Excuse me, ma'am, while you're weeping and thinking about the implications of this information for your twenty-year marriage and your two children, could I trouble you to write me a check?" Tess had started taking much bigger retainers and sending refunds. Easier on everyone.

Unfortunately, this particular wastrel-husband had eaten through the retainer in the first week, without actually doing anything. A nervous type, he cruised the city's best-known prostitution strips, window-shopping, beginning negotiations, then breaking them off at the last minute. Tess had taken a few photographs of women bent toward his car on long, skinny legs, but such photos paid no premiums in divorce court. He could always claim to be asking, for directions.

In Big Trouble. Copyright © by Laura Lippman. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

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In Big Trouble 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 49 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
In Big Trouble is the fourth in the Tess Monaghan series. I will continue to read the rest in the series because they are that good. My husband enjoys them also. They are a very relaxing read and Lippman throws in a couple of curves ever so often. We are so glad I have found another author we both enjoy reading. Tess is a little quirky along with a few other relatives. But that is what lightens up the mood and keeps it interesting.
Andrew_of_Dunedin More than 1 year ago
Let's make this brief … Author Laura Lippman leaves her beloved Baltimore for a trip to San Antonio (taking her Tess Monaghan character with her). There was some “fish out of water” stuff, but a lot of the comparisons actually involved consideration as to how similar the two cities were under the skin. This is my favorite of the (first) 4 books in the series that I have read to date. I loved the setting, the characterizations, and the fact that Lippman managed to fool me until the climax! RATING: 5 stars.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
As always, Laura Lippman provides a fun read with twists and turns to keep the reader wondering what could happen next. Thoroughly enjoyable. Set in San Antonio, the author presents a whodunit that keeps you guessing right to the end, with motives and characters enough to create a surprise ending for Tess Monaghan fans. It's getting harder and harder to find authors who haven't fallen to the societal pressure to use the f-word in every other sentance, and it's quite refreshing to still have a few of those authors around who still have a vocabulary larger than 6 words. I've read everything Lippman has written and enjoyed them all!
Milda-TX on LibraryThing 8 months ago
This was an okay story of a female detective's adventure in Texas. Tess is a character that's easy to like. Book was kinda fun for me to read because she's traveling in San Antonio and Austin.
jenforbus on LibraryThing 8 months ago
This is the fourth installment in the Tess Monaghan series, and it finds Tess traveling to Texas. Tess receives a picture in the mail of her ex-boyfriend Crow. Over the picture it reads "In Big Trouble." At first Tess discards the picture and doesn't think much of it. Crow is a big boy, and he can take care of himself. But when she contacts his parents and learns he has cut himself off from them and they haven't heard from him in several weeks, she begins to grow suspicious. And when his parents offer to hire her to find him, she sets off with Esskay for the Alamo - hmmm, a girl and her dog on an adventure in a strange land. Sound like anything you know?With each Tess Monaghan book I add to my "read" list, I like Tess more and more. She's spunky, quirky and she definitely does NOT have it altogether! A characteristic I find especially annoying is a young person who always knows the right thing to do or say and WHEN to do or say it. How many young people do YOU know like that? It takes time, experience and maturity to master that, and yet a lot of people NEVER master it. Tess's mistakes and poor judgement make her more real to me. Then on the flip side, Tess isn't a "silly" female character. Does she do some silly things at times? Yes, but not so that her whole personality is "silly." There are a few female detectives I've read (written by female authors) whose complete personalities are silly. That factor usually deters me from wanting to read any more of the series. I believe Tess would be irritated by "silly" females, actually. And that characteristic is appealing to me.The plot of IN BIG TROUBLE brings Crow back into the fold and gives some background to his character. I didn't find this plot to be predictable at all. At one point I remember thinking "oh Laura, PLEASE don't tell me you're going to have this happen!" And almost as if she was listening to me think that, a character asks if that scenario is true - it's not. Whew! Saved!Probably the element I liked the most in IN BIG TROUBLE is the theme of context. I think that theme is underlying in a lot of crime fiction, a lot of mystery, but Lippman really brings it to the forefront in this novel. As the reader I was constantly questioning events and evidence because of that theme. Still didn't help me unfold the mystery early, but it DID have me thinking the whole time.I listened to this on audio book from BBC Audiobooks America. The reader is Deborah Hazlett. She also read the previous Tess Monaghan books that I've listened to, so her voice will be forever ingrained in my mind as Tess's voice. I enjoy her readings, but there was an element in this one that bothered me a bit. In this book there were several Mexican characters. And I have to say that Hazlett's Mexican dialect didn't sound like any Hispanic person I've ever heard. That factor ended up being a little distracting to me, but not enough so that I wouldn't recommend the sound recording.Overall, a great Tess Monaghan adventure and a great audiobook!
kavyen on LibraryThing 8 months ago
Sadly, the story was definitely not my favorite. There were too many murders, too many assumptions and too many characters for my liking. The plot was based in Texas (and not Baltimore) and Tess manages to get away with way too many things in spite of being out-of-state without an investigator license. The plot was weak and dwelled more on the past than the current events. The climax was definitely interesting and unexpected but because of the overall effect of the story, I did not enjoy it as much as I would normally have.I liked Tess in this book but I was disappointed by her abilities. I felt that she should be a pro by now and not continue to rely merely on assumptions. The change of location (based in San Antonio instead of Baltimore) had no effect on the story. But I missed Tess¿s aunt and all the action back home in Baltimore.There were a lot of characters I liked and I hope to see more of them in the next books, though I cannot see the context to bring them back.¿In Big Trouble¿ was just there and I will rate it a 3 on 5.
nbmars on LibraryThing 8 months ago
In Big Trouble is the 4th book in the Tess Monaghan detective series. Tess, a Baltimore private investigator, receives a newspaper clipping in the mail showing a picture of her former boyfriend Crow under the headline ¿In Big Trouble.¿ She checks with Crow¿s parents, and they affirm he is missing. They hire Tess to go to Texas to find him. In San Antonio, she gets involved in a complicated but interesting web of murder and revenge involving one of Crow¿s band members, the ethereal looking Emmie.In addition to the mystery plot, it is very entertaining to follow Tess¿s explorations of San Antonio along with her comparisons to Baltimore. The slipped-in travelogue is one of Lippman¿s strengths, as is Tess¿s humor and sarcasm. Tess is impulsive, emotional, a sort-of-recovering food abuser, doesn¿t do ¿tact¿ or ¿chit-chat,¿ can¿t let unsolved mysteries lie, is very funny, and is fiercely loyal to friends and family.Evaluation: The more I get to know Tess and her family and friends, the more I like them. This is a series I¿ll want to keep following. This book won the Anthony and Shamus awards, and was nominated for the Edgar and Agatha awards.
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