Baltimore Blues

Tess Monaghan, Book 1
Narrated by: Deborah Hazlett
Series: Tess Monaghan, Book 1
Length: 9 hrs and 55 mins
3.5 out of 5 stars (1,375 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Unemployed at 29, Tess Monaghan is willing to take any freelance job to pay the rent - including a bit of unorthodox snooping for her rowing buddy, Darryl "Rock" Paxton. In a city where someone is murdered almost every day, attorney Michael Abramowitz's death should be just another statistic. But the slain lawyer's notoriety - and his noontime trysts with Rock's fiancée - make the case front page news...and point to Rock as the likely murderer. But trying to prove her friend's innocence could prove costly to Tess.

©1997 Laura Lippman (P)2008 BBC Audiobooks

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

I'm on #8 - This series is almost unique

Why can't more "gentle" contemporary detective novels like this series be created? I usually avoid U.S. contemporaries because of the
*poor quality of prose
*over-the-top plots
*even more over-the-top action heroes and Barbie heroines who can run in designer shoes
*campy dialogue
*even campier formulaic gratuitous sex and violence scenes and
*overall dumbness factor

This series avoids the above and has the strength of quirky characters (but not TOO quirky) and a strong city setting. Lippman almost does for Baltimore what Rankin does for Edinburgh. Tess usually takes on a social issue (secondary to the plot), which may put off some readers. Except for #2 in the series (Charm City), I think Lippman grows stronger in her craft in each.

As for the narrator, Barabara Rosenblatt, who is much criticized in reviews of this series - I am among the minority who don't like her as the voice of Amelia Peabody, but I love her as Tess Monaghan I don't get the criticisms voicied here--- She doesn't slobber over the vowels -- I think her delivery is part of her fresh take on impulsive Tess. She reads as if speaking, so - yes - there are some human sounds. She is not Microsoft Anna!

So - if you seek a listen to relax, to be engrossed (and not grossed out or blood pressure raised), try this.

116 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Better than I expected

When I want a "who done it", I generally gravitate towards British authors. Americans usually have too much ... something: gratuitous vulgarity or sex or violence or all of the above. The heroines in such novels always seem to make a habit of doing the same remarkably stupid thing over and over. "Gosh. The last time I went out alone investigating a dark and lonely warehouse, I almost died! Well...things like that never happen twice!" And they do.

I was most impressed with this book. It was guilty of none of the above. Personally, I can't help but love an author that can manage to use the word "penultimate" in the very earliest chapters of a story. That sort of thing suggests a deep appreciation for the possibilities of language, a true writer.

I enjoyed listening. The action was well-balanced. I almost didn't know who did it until it was revealed. The city of Baltimore is treated as another character in the story, which is a nice touch. I have no criticisms of the narrator.

I believe I'll go get book #2 now.

50 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

This is a 'real time' mystery.

Where does Baltimore Blues rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

This is the best I've listened to in many months. Perhaps because I once was a reporter, I really identified with Tess and her predicament when her newspaper folded. I liked the fact that this is a real mystery, not a disguised "romance" novel.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Baltimore Blues?

SPOILER ALERT! I held my breath, knowing what was coming when the car started up without its headlights. But the details, the word pictures, were not so predictable. The entire book kept me spellbound.

Any additional comments?

I immediately took advantage of the sale and bought the next three in the series. I know I'll buy the others as well.

24 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Very interesting; couldn't stop listening

It pulled me in immediately with descriptive writing and effective narration that allowed me to see and feel the story unfolding. It left me with a very vivid picture and a desire to hear more about Tess and the other characters which are likely to appear in subsequent books. I'm not sure why I initially chose this, but my next picks will be others in this series.

36 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Excellent

Great book with many twists and turns. I almost didn't buy this book because of the negative reviews. So glad I didn't listen to them.

15 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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loved it

I had not read any of Laura Lippman's books until i tried this. found it in turns witty and intriguing. i would love to recommend this to anyone. do start with Baltimore Blues.

6 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Great Start to a new Series

I know, I know this series has been out for a while, but this is the first book and totally new to me. I thoroughly enjoyed this mystery/thriller. Tess is a likeable character, story starts with her being unemployed and doing menial tasks for various people. Her close friend and rowing partner asks her to follow his fiance who has been acting strange, she does so and lo and behold finds she has a knack for it. By the end of the book others have come to realize her sluething skills as well. Thus we have the start of PI Tess.
The Narrator did a decent job and made the story enjoyable.
This one is a winner. A wonderful, clean, not too much romance/sex story. I would recommend getting this one.

27 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

I Put This Series Off Far Too Long

The Tess Monaghan series has been on my TBR stack for a while now. After reading Baltimore Blues, I am glad I finally started the series. It was a little dated, but the book has a good mystery that was predictable enough that the final ending didn't seem totally contrived, but with an interesting twist I didn't see coming. I enjoyed the humor and several of the secondary characters. Tess seemed very immature to me, prone to bad decision making and somewhat ambiguous at best. However, the first book seemed to address her evolution. At the end, I think she was starting to grow into a character strong enough to support a prolific and very successful series. I am looking forward to reading the rest of the books in the series.

I thought the Narration was very good.

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Uninspired

I usually don't struggle to write a review. However, this audiobook felt so uninspired that I am having trouble coming up with enough coherent words to write a more competent explanation of my dislike of the book beyond "sophomoric" which is a word I feel I've overused in my reviews of late. I think I would have enjoyed this book when I was in 10th grade but the story line felt too mature for young adult lit.

What I liked about the book: It was set in Baltimore, a city I spent many years exploring and know very well. And, I didn't fall asleep listening.

What I didn't like:
The narrator reads Tess with a sort of immature and snooty voice. Coupled with her brash nature and her disregard for the fact that her actions could have a real impact on people's lives and her inability to grasp that she could be doing more harm than good made me really dislike her. She was arrogant and immature and in some cases outright subversive, attempting to manipulate people instead of just dealing in truth which would have been more believable of an ex-reporter.

The story never really explains or wraps up some of Ava's more peculiar traits. In fact, I felt like Ava becomes sort of tossed away used as a means to get to the story the author really wants to tell. It felt like unskillful writing. A better author would have been able to give Ava more closure without tossing her out with the bathwater half way through the story only to come back and give her some unnecessary post script happy-ish ending that doesn't tie up any of the loose threads of her story.

Finally, we're supposed to believe Tess can make these investigative leaps that are a stretch of logic but she's too stupid to realize the danger she is in at the end of the book? I don't want to give any more away than that but just suffice it to say that given her recent predicaments and her ability to make these insane leaps of logic, it was totally unbelievable that she wasn't more cautious toward the end of the book. For me, this trend of super smart characters that turn around and lose all their common sense in order to create drama and plot climax for authors too unskilled to weave a more believable scenario has become a tired cliché in these types of investigative stories. It's not believable and it's a disservice to the reader and the plot.

I'd recommend skipping this book altogether.

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Entertaining and enjoyable.

This main character in this book is a delightful young journalist/ rower.The book is good entertainment and a good introduction to Baltimore and its politics. Think of it as the Wire light. I will probably listen to more books in the series.

6 people found this helpful