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Book Review: Charm City

Reviewed By: Carl Brookins - RAM


[4 stars]

Charm City     Amazon US PB Amazon Canada PB
Laura Lippman
Class/Genre:   Mystery   Woman Main Character
Series: Tess Monaghan # 2
1997, 291 pages

I expect Lippman to become a major name in the mystery field in the very near future. Charm City is the second novel in Lippman's series of books that follow ex-newspaper reporter turned P. I., Tess Monaghan.

This story could have been the stuff of recent headlines in several cities around the country. That it is set in Baltimore, only enhances some of the odd and unusual happenings. Including murder, paranoia, muckraking and venal, self-serving journalists. In addition there's this very large dog.

Lippman handles her plot and the subplots with assurance and we are never lost, in spite of icy and often surprising intersections. There are twists and wheels within circles from low-lifes to business leaders. Throughout, the author has peopled this dynamic story with a strong cast of characters. Her writing is pointed, witty and entertaining.

Businessman Wink Wynkowski, with much fanfare, proposes to bring professional basketball back to the city. Then, with no warning, dark secrets from his past rise up to shake the foundations of his latest enterprise. Even more unusual, the story of Wink's past appears in the local newspaper, one of Wynkowski's strong supporters. How did this happen? Why now? Because she's a former reporter, Tess Monaghan is brought in by the newspaper to find out how the story got into the paper after the editors had raised enough questions about sources to delay publication.

Meanwhile, Tess's uncle is the subject of a vicious beating in his bar and hospitalized in a coma. Is there a connection between Tess's new assignment and her uncle? How does the dog, a huge greyhound, fit? Will Tess's often strained relations with her aunt and her parents distract her from the main issue? With surprising jumps and a stunning resolution, Tess begins to untangle the convoluted relationships and puts herself in mortal danger. This is a vastly entertaining book of great fun.

Carl Brookins - RAM

Reprinted with permission. Do Not repost without permission from the author, Carl Brookins - RAM

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