Title: The Sugar House: A Tess Monaghan Mystery
Publisher: William Morrow
Publication Date: 2000
Book Condition: Fine
Dust Jacket Condition: As New
Signed: Signed by Author(s)
Edition: First Edition.
Signed by Author 0380978172 This hardcover book is Fine, being square and tight. The boards and spine have no wear with pristine lettering. The pages and endpages are clean, with no markings or folds. The dustjacket is As New. Original Price is intact. Not ex-lib. No remainder mark. This copy is signed by the Author on the title page without inscription and dated 9-10-2000 (apparently) in her hand. Bookseller Inventory # 006616
Since her debut in 1997, Laura Lippman has won every major mystery writing award for this remarkable series, in which reporter-turned-PI Tess Monaghan and her beloved-but-flawed Baltimore share top billing. Now, the acclaimed author achieves a new level of mastery with a murderous puzzle that centers on places Tess thinks she knows: her hometown and a moving target called...
Locals recognize the Sugar House as a stubborn and defiant legacy of the city's past that competes with Charm City's glitzy present. Tess thought she knew it, too/--/until she is forced to take on the most disturbing case of her accidental career.
First there's her client, former barmaid Ruthie Dembrow, who seems to know Tess's father well, a little too well as far as his daughter is concerned. Then there's the nature of the crime she's asked to investigate/--/and its cast of characters.
"Ever heard of a Jane Doe murder?" Ruthie asks Tess, and with that question there's no turning back. Fourteen months ago, Ruthie's low-life brother, Henry, killed a runaway over a bottle of glue. His confession put him away, but no one ever learned the girl's name. A month into his prison term, Henry met the same grim fate as his victim. Now Ruthie wants Tess to find out why.
With just a few tantalizing and elusive clues, Tess sets off on a path that takes her from Baltimore's exclusive Inner Harbor to the city's seediest neighborhoods. 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 newer, scarier versions of the Sugar House-places that look so sweet and safe, but only from the outside. And every time Tess thinks she's done what she has to do to protect her family, this decidedly sour case ends up back on her doorstep, ready to claim another life.
Review: 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 Adams
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