The Magazine for Crime & Mystery


Val McDermid Interview

Nevada Barr on writing HUNTING SEASON plus an excerpt

Paul Doherty's short story THE KYRIE MAN

Stark Contrasts Michael Carlson examines the pulp fiction of Richard Stark

Have you got what it takes to be a Writer? by Fiona Shoop

It Could Only Happen in Hollywood

In a Strange City

Laura Lippman

Orion £9.99 tbo

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Reviewed by Heather O'Donaghue

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Laura Lippman's latest Tess Monaghan mystery is a homage to the city she loves - Baltimore. Whether you are a fan of the series or a first time reader, Lippman draws you into the times and life of Tess, and celebrates the father of the modern crime novel, Edger Allan Poe. Beginning with the annual visit of the "Poe Toaster" who brings a tribute to Poe's tomb to commemorate his birthday, Lippman weaves a contemporary mystery that brings Baltimore centre stage and delves anew into the mysteries surrounding Poe himself.
Lippman's obvious love of literature seeps through the novel with references and nods to old favourites. Her trademark humour and fondness for the city of Baltimore just about gives the reader a post card with the words "Wish you where here" written on them. Building on her previous five Tess Monoghan mysteries, Lippman comfortably returns to characters that have grown with the series.
Tess as a main character is very appealing and quite original. She manages to stand out from the crowd of female PI's, becoming a three dimensional character with all the usual irritating human qualities. The plot is original with a deceptively tranquil pace, that leaves the reader surprised that the book is at an end. Lippman is clear and convincing making the book an interesting read. However, the best aspect of Lippman's writing is her natural observation of everyday life and foibles of the city, the people and the culture that is Baltimore. Finishing the book is like coming back from a holiday with the aroma of fresh coffee from the Paper Moon Diner still in the air.
I would recommend going back to the beginning and starting out with Tess Monaghan in Baltimore Blues and building towards In a Strange City. A series is always a at its best once the reader has gotten to know the characters and are able to see that extra layer of dramatic tension in the proceedings. And with this sixth novel, Lippman provides a compulsive and and beautifully realised instalment in the life and investigations of ex-journalist Tess Monaghan.

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