Baltimore Blues by Laura Lippman (Tess Monaghan #1)

Publication Info: Initially published in 1997 by Avon Books. This paperback edition published January 20, 2015 by William Morrow paperbacks. Other editions available.

Summary: Tess Monaghan spends her days rowing rowing with her friend and coach, Rock, working at her aunt’s bookstore or doing odd jobs on the side for her uncle. She thinks of herself as a reporter, but she hasn’t done that job in two years. The newspaper business in Baltimore isn’t what it used to be, having collapsed from three dailies down to just one.

One morning, Rock approaches her with a short term job offer. He wants her to follow his girlfriend, Ava. Rock is blindly devoted to the woman, but her behavior has him concerned. Ava has been making a lot of excuses for not seeing him lately, despite continuing their relationship — and engagement.

While following Ava, Tess observes her committing petty larceny and possibly having an affair with a lawyer in the office where Ava works. When the lawyer turns up dead, Rock is the logical, and only, suspect. Tess then has to prove he didn’t do it, but the evidence increasingly stacks against her friend.

Comments: For a first novel, Baltimore Blues is astonishingly good. I read one other book in this series many years ago and didn’t like it. Looking back on that, I have no idea why. Perhaps it was mood of the moment, or perhaps I was a bit too close to the setting. In this case, I think distance makes the heart grow fonder.

I lived most of my life in a suburb of Baltimore, but never liked the city. However, I read the Baltimore Sun daily for years and watched the local news, so I absorbed a lot of information. I also knew people who were very much “Bal’moreans”, beehive hairdos, peculiar accents and all. I went to a few O’s games, hung out in Fells Point and wandered around like a tourist at the Inner Harbor.

Baltimore Blues felt like going home again, but more like the Hallmark movie version, with memories softened by time and distance. As I read, memories of places, streets and things unique to “Charm City” flooded through me.

I’m very much looking forward to reading the second book and more in this mystery series.

Recommended for mystery readers and anyone interested in Baltimore.

My Rating: 4 STARS

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