New York Times bestselling author Laura Lippman’s Tess Monaghan must solve one of the most baffling murders in her PI career.
When Tess Monaghan agrees to talk to Ruthie Dembrow, she senses she’ll regret it. If there’s anything Tess has learned in her work both as a newspaper reporter and then as a PI, it’s to trust your instincts. Still, she can’t deny she’s intrigued when Ruthie asks her to investigate the fatal stabbing of her brother, Henry, while he was locked away for murdering a teenage runaway over a bottle of glue. Henry’s death at the hands of fellow convicts doesn’t surprise Tess, but what does is that he was convicted for murdering a “Jane Doe”—something that rarely happens in the judicial system.
No ID was found on the victim’s body, and her fingerprints didn’t match up to any in the national database. How could anyone escape all the identity nets of the modern world? Ruthie is convinced if she learns the identity of her brother’s victim, maybe she can also find out why he was killed.
Tess’s search takes her on a harrowing journey from Baltimore’s exclusive Inner Harbor to the seedy neighborhood of Locust Point. But it’s the shocking discovery of the runaway’s true identity that turns Tess’s hunt deadly. Suddenly, her supposedly solved murder case keeps turning up newer, fresher corpses and scarier versions of the Sugar House—places that look so sweet and safe, but only from the outside.
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If you haven't encountered Tess Monaghan, the strong-willed former reporter turned PI who stars in Laura Lippman's increasingly popular series, it may be because this is her first appearance in hardcover. But this deftly plotted mystery may change all that and bring Lippman, herself a Baltimore journalist, and Tess, her curious and likable heroine, the attention they deserve. When Tess's dad asks her to do a favor for a friend, Tess gets involved in tracking down the identity of a nameless girl whose killer, the friend's brother, was murdered himself shortly after he went to prison for the crime. Her search leads Tess in and out of parts of the Atlantic coast that tourists, and many natives, never see: to a clinic for the rich, young and anorexic on Maryland's Eastern Shore; to the Philadelphia Main Line; and inside the corrupt and clandestine corners of the Maryland state capitol in Annapolis. The more Tess learns, the more questions she has, and the most important ones have to do with her father's involvement in the mystery of the anonymous victim and how she died.
The subtext of this well-written, richly rendered thriller is Tess's confrontation with her own values and her struggle to accept her father's compromises with his. There's also a sexy love story with Tess's boyfriend, who's nearly too good to be true, and a lively gal pal, the wealthy and loyal Whitney, whose own talents are equally impressive. The author is good at developing multidimensional characters, the minor ones as well as the majors. And once your appetite is whetted by The Sugar House, you'll want to track down Tess's earlier adventures in Lippman's (paper) backlist, beginning with Baltimore Blues. --Jane AdamsAbout 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 50 awards for crime fiction and won almost 20, including the Edgar. Her books have been translated into over twenty languages. Now a perennial New York Times bestselling author, she lives in Baltimore and New Orleans with her family.
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