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Publisher's Summary

Tess Monaghan has finally made the move and hung out her shingle as a PI-for-hire, complete with an office in Butchers Hill. Maybe it's not the best address in Baltimore, but you gotta start somewhere, and Tess' greyhound Esskay has no trouble taking marathon naps anywhere there's a roof.

Then, in walks Luther Beale, the notorious vigilante who five years ago shot a boy for vandalizing his car. Just out of prison, he says he wants to make reparations to the kids who witnessed his crime, so he needs Tess to find them. But once she starts snooping, the witnesses start dying. Is the Butcher of Butchers Hill at it again?

Like it or not, Tess is embroiled in a case that encompasses the powers that-be, a heartless system that has destroyed the lives of children, and a nasty trail of money and lies leading all the way back to Butchers Hill.

Investigate more of Tess Monaghan's cases.
©1998 Laura Lippman; (P)2007 BBC Audiobooks America

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • 4.2 out of 5.0
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Performance

  • 4.4 out of 5.0
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Story

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  • Story

Left me a bit uncomfortable

So whenever an author sets out to write a book that features race relations, it can easily become either enlightening and helpful, or it can be awkward. I think I'd have to put this book in the somewhat awkward category (though not entirely). This book was written in 1998, and I think what Laura Lippmann wrote, at the time, may have been more cutting edge and relevant than it is now.

This is a mystery, with Tess Monaghan, a not altogether likable (to me) private investigator, who is hired by two clients to find people for them. She seems to rely on letting other people do a lot of the work for her a bit too much for my taste. The two stories weave in and out pretty smoothly, but I couldn't decide whether what was off-putting to me was actually just the narration, which wasn't my favorite, or the story itself. The narration is (mostly) good enough not to interfere with listening to the story, but I don't think it adds anything. What I did like was learning a lot about the adoption process. And having personal ties to Baltimore, I enjoyed hearing about the city.

But partly this is about language. If one is uncomfortable with the use of a word that society now feels is a terrible insult to African Americans, then avoid this book. If you feel that it's important to be authentic in how people probably genuinely speak to each other to communicate disrespect, then you will view this book in that light. I'll just say, the book was okay--but I believe that giving it 4 stars was generous.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • BJG
  • Ellicott City, MD United States
  • 01-27-10

Not her best

Laura Lippman has done better. Tess juggles two unrelated cases and so instead of sinking deep into one story, I just skimmed two. One case is inspired by a real Baltimore case of an old man who shot at a bunch of kids for throwing rocks at his house. In the book, he asks Tess to find the now teenagers. The weak spot was the other case of a woman wanting to find the daughter she gave up for adoption. Of course neither case is as simple as is seems. The happy ending felt insincere to me. Although, a mediocre Laura Lipppman is still worth a credit.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Getting Better

Would you try another book from Laura Lippman and/or Deborah Hazlett?

Laura Lippman yes, Deborah Hazlett no.

What did you like best about this story?

The workings of the foster care system is always a suprising and depressing affair but it was discribed quite well. Talk about something needing reform!!!!!!!

Did the narration match the pace of the story?

Not sure how to answer. I still feel the reader and author are not a good match. I will say that the reader is a bit better in this book than the other two in series. She still can't make each charactor different from each other.

If this book were a movie would you go see it?

No

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Linda
  • PITTSBURGH, PA, United States
  • 08-27-11

Enjoyed very much

I've listened to 3 now, and liked each one better than the previous. Either Tess is maturing, or the author is as a writer. The 2 mysteries are related only in that each has a strong moral component. The characterizations are strong and interesting. The mysteries are good.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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Another Amazing Tess Book!

I loved everything ab this third Tess Monaghan Book.
Very great writing and surprising twists and turns, especially at the end when we find out what really happened. It was there all along, but not out in the open!

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love Laura Lippmab novels

excellent book. love the Tess Monohan series. look forward to more of her stories. love The author

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Poignant and memorable

So far, this is my favorite Tess Monaghan novel. Very thoughtful prose from different points of view. It provokes contemplation, laughter, hope and joy all while providing suspense and mystery. Kudos!

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I guessed part, but part surprised me; love that

I liked this one (No. 3) better than (No. 1) Baltimore Blues, which I read in the past year (I'd read some later ones (e.g., No. 8 By a Spider's Thread - which is great! -- before joining Audible). Tess seemed a lot smarter in this one than No. 1. (I have Charm City (No. 2) yet to read.I liked Jackie and felt as if Tess had found a kindred spirit, even if she didn't seem to know it - I'd want Jackie as my sister. I couldn't help trusting Luthor Beale from the get go. I couldn't believe the bad things the police said. The ultimate slight intertwining of the cases at the end was expected and enjoyable. I sure wouldn't want Tess's grandmother in my family but LOVE her Uncle Donald and many of her other relatives. Envious. Jackie was right - Tess has a super safety net.
Surprised that they mentioned (in a book from 1998) benches made to prevent the homeless from sleeping on them. I thought this was a fairly recent development. Sad. Remember the Red Skelton show. Freddie the Freeloader slept on park benches. Not the best place but preventing people from using them is truly deplorable.

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Sleepless Nights With Tess

stumbled on Tess Monaghan audio series and I'm a crazed, sleep deprived junkie. There is not enough time in the day to listen to as much as I want... I stay up listening through the night until I eventually pass out. I use headphones and listen on my cell all day long, only taking out one ear bud when I have to enter act with cashiers and such. it's midnight and I work at 7 a.m. I just finished the third book and M about to start the 4th one instead of going to bed like I should. Thank you so much for writing incredible books. I can't wait to find out how Tess is private investigating skills have improved in the new book or if she'll get herself into another relationship.

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Loved This Book !

The details of a murder, in which the grouchy neighborhood man is assumed guilty. Good story of how petty vandalism can go wrong. And having a gun handy may not be good for everybody. Enjoyed the narrator so much, very versatile.