Tess Monaghan is laid up at the end of her pregnancy on bed rest, a condition that doesn’t suit her inquisitive nature. She gets binoculars to pair with the books and movies struggling to keep her occupied. Tess gives herself over to musing about a woman in a green raincoat she spies walking her dog. The dog emerges from the park one day without its owner and Tess is sure it’s a sign of foul play. She wants to solve the mystery, but has to rely on her boyfriend and her best friend to get the job done.
I picked up Laura Lippman’s Life Sentences last year and really enjoyed her writing, characterizations and depictions of Baltimore. I had been trying for the first in the Tess Monaghan series but picked up the wrong book. This time around I ended up with the last installment in the series. Originally serialized in The New York Times, this was a light and quick introduction in the series for me and I loved all the characters, the engaging storyline, and the technique of the bedridden investigator. Lippman tells just enough that you get a feeling for who Tess is and where she is in her life and relationships without spoiling the previous books. I still want to go back to read the stories that have brought her to this moment and I really enjoyed that the mystery offered surprises for me, though it was a little rushed at the end.
The Monaghan books are a different breed of book than the stand alone that I read. I can see how those who enjoy the series, might not find her other works not to be their cup of tea. Life Sentences had a much grittier feel with literary leanings and very detailed characterizations. Based on this offering I would think the series are lighter reads. I enjoy both types of book when the mood strikes, but it is something to think about when choosing which Lippman book to delve into. Recommended.