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Laura Lippman

Orion £17.99hbk

Reviewed by Mary Clarke

Private investigator Tess Monaghan is asked to look into five apparently unrelated, unsolved homicides for a non-profit consortium interested in domestic violence. While one of the organisations of the consortium is the foundation of her friend Whitney's family, another is the William Tree Foundation of Luisa O'Neal, an old enemy of Tess. Nevertheless, she decides to take the case, seeing it as a worthwhile project.
Early investigations bear little fruit and Tess begins to feel she has been sent on a wild goose chase. However, she perseveres, discovering an intricate and well-planned serial murder. Along the way, she joins forces with Carl Dewitt, a former Toll Facilities police officer who found one of the victims. Their partnership begins as an uneasy alliance, with Carl's gung-ho style and movie quotations striking Tess as the approach of an enthusiastic amateur. In fact, the state police dismiss him as obsessive and make it clear that they take Tess little more seriously, trying to keep both out of the case when they report what they have learned. Gradually, a degree of understanding and respect builds up between Tess and Carl as they make progress with the investigation, each using their particular talents to good effect.
Laura Lippman has put together a cleverly plotted novel which is complex enough to keep the reader's interest without creating confusion, although there is some subtle misleading. From a moderately slow beginning, she builds up tension and pace at a steady level, taking us to the denouement in roller coaster fashion. The result is an entertaining novel, with a sound plot and likeable characters.