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In a Strange City (Tess Monaghan #6)
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In a Strange City (Tess Monaghan #6)

3.67  ·  Rating details ·  2,634 Ratings  ·  182 Reviews

It is a treasured Charm City tradition. Every year on Edgar Allan Poe's birthday a figure wrapped in a dark cloak visits the renowned author's Baltimore gravesite and leaves behind three roses and half a bottle of cognac. No Baltimorean worth his or her salt would ever dream of trying to determine the true identity of the "Poe Toaster," thereby possibly destroying a cheris

Kindle Edition, 400 pages
Published (first published 2001)
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Peejay Who Once Was Minsma
Maybe a 2.5 because the writing is good, the characterizations are mostly excellent, the premise was interesting, BUT I found the plot so transparent that I guessed the whodunit quite early on and much of the whydunit. As a result, the ending was flat and not particularly inspiring. The other plot element I didn't care for centered around the main character, Tess Monaghan, doing stupid things. I realize that part of this is because Tess is a risk-taker, but she displayed such stupidity in some p ...more
Book Concierge
January in Baltimore can only mean one thing – the annual visit to Edgar Allan Poe’s final resting place by the Poe Toaster, an anonymous person, dressed in cape and scarf, who leaves three roses and a half-full bottle of cognac at the grave on Poe’s birthday. PI Tess Monaghan gets embroiled in the tradition when a mysterious man tries to hire her to follow and unmask the Toaster. She declines the job, but winds up investigating when 1) TWO Toasters show up and one is shot, and 2) she receives a ...more
Learned more about Poe than I ever wanted to and the book was dragggged out to long. Good book though - I just thought it could have been a bit shorter.
Gloria Feit
Feb 09, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
From the publisher: For the past fifty years on the birth date of Edgar Allan Poe, a person wearing a cloak has placed three roses and a half bottle of cognac on the writer’s gravesite. PI Tess Monaghan has never witnessed the event. But when John P. Kennedy, an eccentric antiques dealer, asks her to uncover the identity of the caped visitor, who he believes has duped him with the sale of an inauthentic antique, Tess decides to hold vigil on the night the cloaked stranger is expected to make an ...more
Kathleen (Kat) Smith
"What's the difference between a ritual and a routine? It's a question he asks himself almost every day. Are rituals better than routines, more elevated? Or do ritual invariable slide into routine, until we forget why we started and why we continue? Another good question, but he's afraid pondering the answer will only tempt him to sleep, and he is determined to see the sun rise today. Once upon a midnight dreary...ah, but such allusions are unworthy, the sort of obvious unthinking wordplay one e ...more
re-read began february 2, 2011.

i don't know why i didn't like this one so much the first time around. this time i kind of appreciated the lack of kitty, tyner, whitney, and even crow. the Porcine one, all the poe clues - this is a great mystery, even if it did leave me feeling a little sad (poor, lonely Visitor!)

I liked the glimpses into baltimore history, was annoyed with tess' braid, and mostly was sad that she wasn't rowing as much anymore. for some reason, the fact that she rows makes me rea
Sharon Mensing
The good thing about this book is that it has an interesting setting and background -- Edgar Allan Poe's Baltimore in the present day. I learned a lot about Poe and Baltimore in this book. However, the unsolved mystery is why Tess Monaghan, our PI sleuth, would have gotten involved in this mystery in the first place. Throughout the book, this nagged at me, and as I finished the book it still didn't make sense. I also really hated the way that the explanation for the thefts and murders involved w ...more
Dec 22, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: cool-crime
This is the only Laura Lippman book I've read to date. She's definitely a talented writer who knows to add all of the right pop culture references in order to make her characters organic. In fact, what I liked most about this story were the youthful characters, (one in particular; a beer-swilling, pizza-scarfing librarian.) I also feel it was very tasteful to have a story centered around Edgar Allan Poe and the annual Poe "toaster." The writer obviously places a lot of emphasis and pride on her ...more
Nov 29, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2009-books
Lippman has been getting better with each book, but the story lines are also getting darker. Tess is no longer the happy-go-lucky PI she started out as - and she's a better character for it.

This book actually taught me a little bit about Edgar Allan Poe and that can never be a bad thing. I'm more interested in his stories than I have been since my friend Amy introduced me to him in the 6th grade. I may have to pick up a book of his short stories very soon.
Jun 02, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
Another enjoyable installment in the Tess Monaghan series set in Baltimore. This is mystery revolves around the gravesite of Edgar Allen Poe and a murder that takes place. Tess and her boyfriend are there because she was hired to observe the ritual of the 3 Red Roses and bottle of Cognac which is left by a unknown individual each year in January. After the murder takes place Tess investigates several other cases directly related to the case as she finds out. There is a series of twist and turns ...more
Feb 09, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobooks
Not my favourite in the series, but not so bad that I'm going to quit. Quite a lot more filler than usual; and at times it felt like the City of Baltimore must be paying her to pump up the glories of her town - there was quite a lot of Baltimore description and scene-setting. But still, a fun read, and if someone were in fact an Edgar Allan Poe die-hard fan it would probably rate even more.
May 30, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I've tried to get into Tess M as an investigator twice now. I just don't care for her as a character and I don't find the stories compelling. I'll read any Lippman book that doesn't contain Tess. Although I was more than halfway through this book I abandoned it.
Ryan Dane
Aug 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Having the Poe and the "Visitor" linked into this book just made it! I love Poe, and being from Maryland and knowing about the story of the Visitor or The "Poe Toaster" really sided with me with this one!
Jun 26, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Another fun mystery with PI Tess Monaghan. Interesting characters and lots of subtle clues if you read carefully. Otherwise, when the reveal is exposed you may have to go back and reread some parts.
Betty Day
Jul 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Another that I read long ago and only remembered the yearly visitor to Edgar Allen Poe's grave . . .
Elena Varipatis
A bit more convoluted than some of her other books. Found it hard to keep details straight, but as always loved the snippets and details of Baltimore woven through.
Sep 12, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Baltimore’s most famous son, Edgar Allan Poe, has inspired the mysterious Poe toaster to honor the anniversary of his death each year by leaving three roses and a partial bottle of cognac on his grave. In 2001, Baltimore detective Tess Monaghan has an odd client, John P. Kennedy, enter her office requesting that she determine the identity of the Poe toaster as he has stolen a valuable object from Kennedy. Tess refuses to take the case, but can’t help but attend the annual event with her boyfrien ...more
May 30, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review refers to the audio version.

#6 Tess Monaghan, PI series set in Baltimore. This book focused on Edgar Allan Poe, who lived in Baltimore, and his museum, memorabilia, and mostly the famous cloaked, anonymous "visitor" who stops by every year with roses and cognac for his grave. An antiques dealer tries to hire Tess into finding who the visitor is and unmasking him because the visitor has something that belongs to him and the only way he can get it is to threaten him with exposure. Tess
Dec 05, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In a Strange City is the sixth Tess Monaghan mystery from Laura Lippman. In this installment, Lippman makes use of a long-standing Baltimore tradition, the Poe Toaster or Visitor. If by some chance you aren't familiar with the Poe Toaster, he's the individual who shows up at Poe's grave on January 19th each year to leave roses and cognac. Only this year, there's a murder at Poe's grave when the Toaster is supposed to arrive.

Tess is not actually employed by anyone, but she begins to investigate w
May 14, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In other Tess Monaghan novels Edgar Allen Poe is mentioned, as he lived in Baltimore and his grave is there. In this one we explore Poe a little bit more.

Tess interviews a client who wants her to follow a man who has been visiting Poe's grave every year, on the author's birthday, carrying three roses and a half-bottle of cognac. He has been dubbed the "Poe Toaster". There has been someone doing this job since 1949, Lippman acknowledges in the front, but she skewed details deliberately. I find th
Mar 09, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, 2011
Middles. I've been thinking a lot about middles recently because I've been going through the final edits of my first novel She. The beginning needed little work (probably because I spent the most time on it in the writing phase), and the ending went fast. But the middle...oy! Why is it middles are the hardest part to write? I wondered that again as I was reading In A Strange City. It seemed to sag there for a bit, and I kind of got lost. But the latter could've been because my brain was fried fr ...more
Adam Fleming
I'm reviewing this based on listening to the books-on-tape version, so maybe I would have had a different view if I'd read the text, but I don't think so.

There's just not much going on here. The plot consists of listening to a bunch of characters talk about various events and gather more information until a murder is eventually "solved". As the reader (listener) you're never put in the action, so there's never any real tension. If someone is murdered you don't actually get to witness it, you'll
Dec 06, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
This book was great, and is possibly my favorite so far in the Tess Monaghan series. It's filled with Baltimore local color and facts that even I (a native) did not know about. Including the "Poe Toaster" in a mystery novel was pure genius, I wish I'd though of it first! This, and the other Tess books, have a wonderful dry sense of humor that other reviewers often fail to mention. Of all literature's female detectives and PIs, I think Tess is the most believable. I recommend reading the series f ...more
i think i have to stop reading this series. the novelty of a lot of detective series wears off after a while, and i don't think this one is all that strong to begin with. even though i really like lippman's other books. it was kind of a series of vaguely interesting discoveries with very poorly sketched out 'villains', to the extent that i struggled to remember who was who. chubbiness is not a character trait, laura.

so the poor characterisation didn't help, although the ultimate reveal was prett
May 11, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting history of Baltimore that a lone, unknown figure would place a rose and a half consumed bottle of alcohol on the grave of Edgar Allen Poe each year on the day of his death to honor the poet's passing. In this novel, on the night of the commemoration two cloaked figures arrive at the gravesite with one being shot as the other vanishes into the night. Many people had gathered, as they did each year, to see if they could learn the identity of the Poe mourner. People witnessing the murde ...more
Paul Barton
I'm a big fan of Laura Lippman's stand alone novels. They are where she gives full rein to her literary skills. I decided to try her 'Tess Monahan' PI series and picked 'In a Strange City' because of the intriguing association with Edgar Alan Poe.

I do realise that a series with a regular main character and supporting cast is what you might call bread-and-butter writing but I had hopes. They weren't quite dashed; Lippman's undoubted ability just about saved this murder tale. I imagine Poe is some
Aug 28, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Tess Is a P.I., rather inexperienced, in Baltimore. A former journalist, Tess is curious and tenacious. Baltimore is almost always a character in this series as well. The stories are heavy with the history of Baltimore and rich descriptions of the people and neighborhoods. In this book Tess turns down a job to uncover the identity of the Visitor, who yearly leaves roses and cognac on the grave of Edgar Allen Poe. But her curiosity brings Tess to the grave sight to witness the ritual even if she ...more
C Lasseter
I'm from the Baltimore area, and picked up the book partly because the author is a journalist for The Baltimore Sun, which is a newspaper close to my heart. I loved the references to Baltimore culture. The shout-outs to Highlandtown, Fells Point, and other memorable people and places struck a chord with me, although I thought the heroine having a dog nammed Esskay was a bit overdone.

This book is out of my favored genre, I admit. While I found Tess, the main character, imperfect and likeable, I
I had known about the tradition of the Poe Tribute, but hadn't realized it took place in Baltimore. I'm almost surprised it took this long to work it into a Tess story.

Lippman does a lovely job of having various layers of the story sharing the issue of what things represent for us and the desire to have them. From those who want to recreate their childhood's by recreating the decorating style, to those who want the iconic symbols of a city, to those who love books. And while Tess is dealing with
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Baltimore 2 17 Aug 03, 2008 04:34PM  
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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
More about Laura Lippman...

Other Books in the Series

Tess Monaghan (1 - 10 of 12 books)
  • Baltimore Blues (Tess Monaghan #1)
  • Charm City (Tess Monaghan #2)
  • Butchers Hill (Tess Monaghan #3)
  • In Big Trouble (Tess Monaghan #4)
  • The Sugar House (Tess Monaghan #5)
  • 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)
“The past was worth remembering and knowing in its own right. It was not behind us, never truly behind us, but under us, holding us up, a foundation for all that was to come and everything that had ever been.” 11 likes
“She was only beginning to grasp the geometry lessons that had perplexed her in junior high, the revelation that the world was full of infinite planes that never intersect.” 0 likes
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