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Baltimore Blues (Tess Monaghan #1)

3.48 of 5 stars 3.48  ·  rating details  ·  4,723 ratings  ·  535 reviews
"Courier New"

Until her paper, the BALTIMORE STAR, crashed and burned, Tess Monaghan was a damn good reporter who knew her hometown intimately--from historic Fort McHenry to the crumbling projects of Cherry Hill. Now gainfully unemployed at twenty-nine, she's willing to take any freelance job to pay the rent--including a bit of unorthodox snooping for her rowing buddy, Dar

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Published December 28th 2006 by Sound Library (first published 1997)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Dan Schwent
When it appears a rowing buddy of hers murdered his fiancee's boss and lover, underemployed Tess Monaghan sets about trying to clear his name. But did Rock kill ace attorney Michael Abramowitz? If he didn't, who did and why? And can Tess find out before she winds up as dead as the lawyer?

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, the girl I was seeing at the time told me I would like Laura Lippman. Since she was always pushing books on me, I ignored her. Maybe she was right in that one particul...more
I picked up this book after enjoying What the Dead Know, but I just couldn't get into it or make myself care about any of the characters.
John Carter McKnight
Flipping through a number of mysteries, I was grabbed by Baltimore Blues from the first paragraph. Tight writing, realistic characters, a strong setting, well-crafted plot with good red herrings and actual clues: Lippman serves up a solid mystery.

The main character, Tess, is particularly well-handled: she's neither an unlikeable mess nor a Mary Sue waiting to be discovered or to start believing in her own awesomeness. She's not cookies yet: life on hold after the end of her newspaper job, she's...more
I picked this up because it is a Baltimore author in a genre I like. It was okay. I'll read others, but its more in the mind-candy side of things. Definite beach read.
Feb 25, 2011 Nan rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Ann Love
Shelves: ebook
I've had Laura Lippman in my sights ever since Ellen Emerson White spoke highly of her in an online posting. This month, BN is offering the first book in Lippman's Tess Monaghan series for 99 cents, so I thought I should give her a chance. And I'm glad that I did.

I can't say that this book excelled beyond my wildest imagination or any of that sort of hyperbole. What it does, it does well. It's the story of how Tess, underemployed and working free lance since she was laid off as a reporter, start...more
I recently read one of Lippman's standalone novels and liked it, so I dug up the first in her Tess Monaghan series. Not bad, but a little bit clunky. This is a book that definitely would have been better in first-person POV than in third. It's a nice set-up for the series, though. We meet Tess (who is not necessarily the most warm-and-fuzzy, likeable heroine), a former reporter turned semi-employed mooch, just as she stumbles onto the opportunity to do some detective work for the first time. I'm...more
If you read Mystery Scene Magazine, this has been a month devoted to author Laura Lippman. Having read a few of her standalone novels, the editors convinced me it was time to try one in the Tess Monaghan series set in Baltimore. A question often asked about series is whether you need to read them in order. If you're reading for the mystery alone I'd bet in this case you could but to set the character and locale I'm for starting right from the beginning.

Like the author, Tess is a former journali...more
Tess Monaghan, a reporter and victim of downsizing, is trying to make ends meet by working in her aunt's bookstore (and living at her store). She's a serious rower and meets her buddy Rocky each morning for their training session followed by a companionable breakfast. Nice ritual. Rocky asks Tess to do him a favour, he'll hire her to follow his fiance because there's something up, and he can't figure it out. Tess' surveillance definitely turns up something fishy. It turns out that Tess really do...more
Pamela Trawick
While visiting Baltimore, I asked around for novels set there. Laura Lippman was recommended by all. I enjoyed her descriptions of settings and characters and her great sense of humor. Already well into book two of the series, Charm City.
Baltimore Blues was different for me, I suppose in a lot of ways it struck me as being more real (in an I can see something like this happening in real life way) than most books I've read (recently). There was no neat wrap up that tied up all the loose ends (at least not for Tess), and the author didn't sugarcoat the characters, but made them real and flawed and human. I have mixed feelings about Tess, she was flawed but very human for her flaws, and most of the time upfront about them - or at l...more
This is a decent start to what looks like a long series, but I was not totally impressed with Tess Monaghan, the main character. She was whiny, self-indulgent and her sense of entitlement set me on edge. She relies on her family and friends to support her and seems to take them all for granted. That said, I didn't hate her and I can see that there is room for major growth for her character. I plan on reading more in this series.
Zakariah Johnson
Baltimore Blues wonderfully captures the essence of the time and place it covers, Baltimore in the late 90s. It is the best portrayal of the 90s "slacker" culture that I've read, all-the-better because Lippman only set out to write a book about what was (Baltimore Blues was first published in 1997) not a self-conscious nostalgia piece. There are no cheap references to Nirvana or Friends (thank God), but the circumstances of main character Tess Monaghan mirror the mind-set of college-educated 20-...more
May 20, 2010 stephanie rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: em, laura, leigh, thriller lovers.
Recommended to stephanie by: series rec by a.
REREAD! started 5/20/10. yay!


oh, the first introduction to tess monaghan, we see how she gets together with tyner, how she stumbles on her first "case" and get to meet the lovely secondary characters - crow and whitney and kitty and feeny.

this story revolves around the death of a not-so-loved lawyer and the arrest of tess's good rowing partner, rock, for the murder. as tess learns how to put her reporting skills to good use, how to get out from under the covers, we get way more of a story than...more
Baltimore Blues. Laura Lippman. 1997. Avon. 290 pages. ISBN 0380788756.

Baltimore Blues is Laura Lippman's debut and first novel in the mystery series featuring heroine Tess Monaghan, a witty, wise-ass, intelligent, athletic (and pot-smoking!) reporter-turned-private eye you'll end up loving. In fact, Tess Monaghan is exactly why I'll be reading the rest of this series, which will soon be eleven books deep when The Girl in the Green Raincoat releases next year in 2011.

Tess' best friend Darryl "Ro...more
I started this book because Karin Slaughter mentioned Laura Lippman in an interview. I read Lippman's "The Power of Three" and "I'd Know You Anywhere" prior to this one and I liked it. But I knew that Lippman is known for her Tess Monaghan series so I was eager to start this one. I guess because Karin Slaughter had recommended her, I thought this would be similar to KS's books. So not. Maybe it's because I went into this with certain expectations, but I was a little disappointed. The tone is lig...more
This is the first novel in the series featuring Tess Monaghan, a former reporter (laid off) turned private investigator. I read a criticism of this book by someone who thought the pace was too slow (especially the beginning) and found Tess unlikeable ("whiny").

I thoroughly enjoyed the journey and was not in any hurry to get to the action. After the introduction to Tess, perhaps the second in the series (which I'll be reading) picks up speed, but I'm happy reading about the character and building...more
Cathy Kanaday
After loving Laura Lippman's What the Dead Know, a most satisfying and thoughtful mystery, I tracked down more of her writing, and to my pleasure found that she has a series of mysteries set in Baltimore and centered around an ex-journalist (by layoff, not by choice), Tess Mongahan.

Tess reminds me of a better educated and connected Kinsey Milhouse (? - from Sue Grafton), which takes us into some wonderful Baltimore neighborhoods. There's a great sense of place throughout the book through Tess...more
Lippman has been on my to read list for a bit. I read her essay in The Wire: Truth Be Told and then found out about her relationship with David Simon. When Amazon discounted this to under a dollar, I didn't have an excuse not to read it.

Is it the best mystery I've read? No. But it does make me want to read others in the series.

Tess, the central character, is human. At times stupid, insecure, smart, she is well drawn. The mystery is compelling, and the characters real. At times, there are beautif...more
Jul 11, 2008 Vivisection rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who likes the female private investigator novels
Recommended to Vivisection by: my lj friend cher
I had to start this book 3 times and was sure I wasn't going to like it. I love the female private investigator genre and felt that Tess Monaghan didn't have quite the flair of say VI Warshawski or Kathy Mallory.

Third time's the charm. Tess and her lovely city of Baltimore grew on me as did the cast of subordinate characters--especially her aunt, Kitty and her co-worker Crow. I am particularly pleased to see that like all detectives, Tess keeps to a strict exercise routine, but she is not afrai...more
I found I was as fascinated with Baltimore in the Tess Monahagn books as I was with the characters. An interesting phenomenon. I am putting it on the itinerary when we go to D.C. next summer. But I do like Tess as a character, and I love the setting over her aunt's bookstore, Tess's tenacity in figuring out what is going on when it seems as if nothing makes sense. Tess is out rowing at five o'clock most mornings, which makes me feel guilty, and then she gets busy trying to make a living after lo...more
I like the characters a lot in this book. Tess’s creative and sexy Aunt Kitty is a lot of fun, and one of the bookstore co-workers, a 23-year-old named “Crow” is a perfect sideman for Kitty and Tess. Tess herself is a little too much of a naïve risk-taker, and suffers from low self-esteem, but the first quality seems to be a sine qua non for female detectives, and the second humanizes Tess and draws us to her side. And being from Maryland, I love the Baltimore setting. I definitely plan to conti...more
Carl Brookins

One expects this author to continue to be an important voice in the mystery genre. Lippman’s observant eye, her skill with the language, and her sense of pace and timing are all on exhibit here. If Tess Monaghan, ex-newspaper reporter, is not the most unusual lead character readers may have encountered, many of the other characters are unusual enough to satisfy our needs. Moreover, as a character that shines and sometimes dominates in these pages, the city of Baltimore is a star.

This excellent f...more
Mark Soone
I enjoyed this so much more than Lippman's standalone novels so far! This heldmy attention from the get go, and sustained it all the way through.

I can't say that I really liked Tess, but I did enjoy her development as a character much more than the cast of the previous 2 books I have read. The plot itself was fine a good mystery ensued....but the characters along the way were plastic and quite unbelievable likeable to me...The bumbling cops "this is not a murder" comments and their ineptness ru...more
Jun 13, 2008 Corey rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Mystery Readers
This book is the first book in Laura Lippman's Tess Monaghan P.I. series. It was a little rough around the edges. The author lives in Baltimore, so there are many descriptions of the city. Having lived in Baltimore all my life, I felt that her descriptions did not go far enough. She needed to ad more detail of the areas that she mentioned. Overall, the book wasn't so bad that I wouldn't give another of her books a try.
First in the Tess Monaghan series. I really liked this; Lippman's use of language is lovely, which was an unexpected (but nice!) surprise in a genre that often neglects to pay attention to the writing because they're so plot-driven. I enjoyed the characters too, particularly Tess, the former-journalist-turned-PI who has to try and find out who has framed her rowing partner for the murder of his fiancee's boss.
After years spent reading mysteries and detective books the urge just dried up. I hadn't read one in quite a while. Then I saw this on the libary shelf opened it and started reading. Now I'm on the second book. I like this main character a lot plus a learn a lot. I now know a surprising amount about Baltimore and rowing.
Didn't like this book as much as I had hoped I would. The best part was probably the Baltimore details - and there are a lot of those!! Made me realize how little I know about this city I've lived in or near for 15 years! I'll read her next one, hoping it'll get better. Decent mystery, but nothing special.
Tess Monaghan, formerly a reporter for the defunct Star, reluctantly accepts a job from fellow rower Darryl Paxton ("Rock") to find out what his fiancee is doing when she makes excuses for not seeing him. Tess takes to following the young lawyer, Ava, a woman she has met and does not much like. She soon discovers that Ava has other interests, and makes the unusual move of meeting with Ava to encourage her, strongly, to tell Rock about his rival.

Then it all goes wrong. Ava had been seeing Michael...more
Elise M.
I don't believe I've read any of the Tess Monaghan series before, but I will read more. There were a couple of points in the book where I felt the author was stretching reality to serve the plot, but mostly the story hung together and it had a cast of characters I could relate to. An enjoyable debut.
J.W. Barnes
Such a chore to read. I've never been more relieved to finish a book. The mystery isn't strong enough to hold you. The suspense is non-existent. I've read other Lippman books and wanted to try her mystery series. I may try the next in this series but this first one was a big disappointment!
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Laura Lippman was a reporter for twenty years, including twelve years at The (Baltimore) Sun. She began writing novels while working fulltime and published seven books about “accidental PI” Tess Monaghan before leaving daily journalism in 2001. Her work has been awarded the Edgar ®, the Anthony, the Agatha, the Shamus, the Nero Wolfe, Gumshoe and Barry awards. She also has been nominated for othe...more
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“But the central branch of the Enoch Pratt Free Library was still a place of wonders to Tess, even if the book budget had been slashed and the hours cut. Her parents had made a lot of mistakes, a fact Tess compulsively shared on first dates, but she gave them credit for doing one thing right: Starting when she was eight, they gave her a library card and dropped her off at the downtown Pratt every Saturday while they shopped. Twenty-one years later, Tess still entered through the children's entrance on the side, pausing to toss a penny in the algae-coated fish pond, then climbing the stairs to the main hall. If she could be married here, she would.” 5 likes
“It must be nice to be so strong and to think it's because you're so good, that you live right and eat right, so you deserve your health and happiness. But there is such a thing as luck, and there's more bad luck than good in this world.” 4 likes
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