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Baltimore Blues

(Tess Monaghan #1)

3.51  ·  Rating details ·  9,575 ratings  ·  926 reviews

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, Darryl "Rock"

ebook, 285 pages
Published October 13th 2009 by William Morrow (first published 1997)
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Dan Schwent
Sep 12, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014
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
This is a zippy murder mystery set in Baltimore. Tess Monaghan has been in a rut since she lost her newspaper job, but her life gets more exciting when her friend, Darryl, asks her to investigate his fiancé. Things get messy when Darryl is accused of murdering a shady attorney linked to his girlfriend. Tess tries to help him by finding the real killer, and ends up in the crosshairs herself.

I listened to this audiobook while attending a conference in Baltimore, and it was fun to learn details abo
This book certainly can't help that it was written almost 20 years ago & is therefore dated in ways both charming - "Tess looked over his shoulder, enthralled. Electronic data bases were new to her" and irritating - Tess's insistence that the female members of the Victims of Male Aggression group have "built their lives around passivity and inaction," the entire existence of Crow. But the mystery was interesting, and although Tess has archaic views on the proper way to be a victim of sexual ...more
Jul 23, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wow. What a crazy ride! I loved reading about Tess, her family, her uncle (who may not be a uncle) and having this whole thing set in Baltimore. Lippman manages to make Baltimore come alive and you get to see the many sides to Charm City. I really enjoyed Tess too since we don't just get her off and running in her new freelance career as a PI. Lippman introduces some great characters, Tess's aunt Kitty, her ex Johnathan, her rowing buddy Rock, and her best friend Whitney.

"Baltimore Blues" has T
Feb 14, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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.
Mar 28, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
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
Oct 08, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
3.75 stars. I loved this for more than halfway, and then it started getting a little violent. I love Tess though and the other recurring characters, and the humor. Also the Baltimore flavor was a nice add. The audio narrator does a really bad Baltimore accent. But other than that, the narration was also good. Will continue with the series after a little break. Nice to have found a new series to enjoy!
Dec 29, 2007 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-mystery
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.
This is the first of the Tess Monaghan series. Lippman does an excellent job of establishing a great sense of Baltimore. This is important as Tess is a Baltimore native. We meet many of the characters, her friends and family, who continue to be featured in her books. Tess is a recently laid off newspaper reporter and is scrambling to earn a living with a few part-time jobs given to her by family members. She is also an athlete and her sport is rowing. As water is so important to the city of Balt ...more
Feb 25, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  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
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
Baltimore Blues is the first in Laura Lippman's Tess Monaghan series and very enjoyable. I like Tess as a hero and Lippman's writing is always first rate. I also enjoyed the portrayal of Baltimore.

In the opening of the series, Tess is still adjusting to losing her job as a reporter and trying to find herself a new job/career. A rowing friend (I like that Tess is a large, somewhat ungainly woman and not a classical beauty) of Tess asks her to investigate his girlfriend to see if she's being faith
Amanda McGill
Jul 04, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017
Meh never really got into Baltimore Blues. The story follows ex-reporter Tess as she tries to clear her friend's name who is accused of killing his fiancee's boss.

I just found the story revolved around Tess just going from person to person and getting them to spill their story. I didn't find it that interesting and the ending wasn't a huge shocker.

I won't be continuing the series.
Mar 07, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Jun 22, 2007 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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.
Pamela Trawick
May 04, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012, mystery, series
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.
Apr 15, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Overall, I was hoping for more. I had heard a lot about Lippman and was hoping to pick up a new series. But I never really got into the characters and the writing never really drew me in. I imagine if I had started reading these 20+ years ago, I might have enjoyed them at the time and would be fondly looking back on the series. But too late for me.
Nov 01, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In the first book of the Tess Monaghan series, "Baltimore Blues (Tess Monaghan Novel Book 1)," Tess is feeling adrift. It has been two years since her newspaper job ended, and she has yet to discover her new "true passion."

Meanwhile, she does odd jobs and works in her Aunt Kitty's bookstore, while living upstairs in a tiny apartment. She has regular routines, however, like daily exercise, including running and the occasional rowing with her friend Rock (Darryl Paxton).

One day, he asks her for a
Sep 04, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
So many things wrong with this book... where do I even begin?

1. Maybe this is my fault for reading books out of order but of course the only other Tess Monaghan book I have read is the one that calls back to the story that unfolds in this book. So it turns out I already know the ending from reading a later book in the series.

2. I'm surprised this book started such an apparently "hit" series since it's poorly written. Like the author assumes you just know things without telling you. We don't kno
EDITED: Rarely, almost never, do I go back and re-read a book that I have laid aside. However, because I have truly enjoyed all other books written by Laura Lippman I gave this book a second chance. The beginning still was very slow. It was unnecessary to the plot, character development, everything, so I skimmed it. After that the book was better. I found I did resonate will the primary character, Tess Monaghan, a single, out of work former reporter - wait - she is just like me! The plot was pla ...more
Jun 09, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Spoiler contained in review.

The book started out pretty good. Then a new character was introduced somewhere around the fourth chapter. He had a two paragraph introduction. 100 pages later the author has him in a wheelchair. ?? I went back to the place of his introduction and reread to make sure I hadn't missed something. The author stated he had been involved in an accident with a drunk driver and that he was muscular, but his legs were not. No mention of wheelchair. Anywhere. I kept wondering
Dec 16, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: page-turner
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 build
Jun 24, 2015 rated it it was ok
It’s tricky when you read reviews that might mislead you into forming an opinion about a book before finishing it.
Personally I thought it was rather enjoyable from a backdrop point of view. First there was Baltimore. I know south Maryland, but not Baltimore so there were many landmarks to discover via google images, as I often do while reading – and secondly, amateur rowing clubs do not often feature in books either. So those elements made the book rather original. The characterization was pass
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
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
May 23, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2014
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
Mar 26, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2009-books
Mysteries with female detectives are my potato chips - I speed through them and then feel a little sick afterwards. I like this Tess Monaghan and her Baltimore. Lippman isn't afraid to show some of the grittiness of the city while also showing its neighborhoods and the working people in them. I look forward to reading more of the series (and they're winging their way to me from Paperbackswap as we speak!).
debbicat ☮~Traveling Sister
It was ok. Not memorable to me. I liked Every Secret Thing and thought I'd try something else by the author. It was also free to listen to on my library app, Hoopla. I didn't pay close attention to it in the last 1/4. I was anxious to end it and move onto something else. Thus the 3 stars.
Apr 05, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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

Other books in the series

Tess Monaghan (1 - 10 of 12 books)
  • Charm City (Tess Monaghan #2)
  • Butchers Hill (Tess Monaghan #3)
  • In Big Trouble (Tess Monaghan #4)
  • The Sugar House (Tess Monaghan #5)
  • In a Strange City (Tess Monaghan, #6)
  • The Last Place (Tess Monaghan #7)
  • By a Spider's Thread (Tess Monaghan #8)
  • No Good Deeds (Tess Monaghan #9)
  • Another Thing to Fall (Tess Monaghan #10)
  • The Girl in the Green Raincoat (Tess Monaghan, #11)
“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.” 9 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.” 6 likes
More quotes…