Monday, March 28, 2011

Review: Baltimore Blues

Baltimore Blues
Laura Lippman
336 pages
My Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

In a city where someone is murdered almost every day, attorney Michael Abramowitz's death should be just another statistic. But the slain lawyer's notoriety—and his taste for illicit midday trysts—makes the case front-page news in every local paper except the Star, which crashed and burned before Abramowitz did.
A former Star reporter who knows every inch of this town—from historic Fort McHenry to the crumbling projects of Cherry Hill—now-unemployed journalist Tess Monaghan also knows the primary suspect: cuckolded fiancĂ© Darryl "Rock" Paxton. The time is ripe for a career move, so when rowing buddy Rock wants to hire her to do some unorthodox snooping to help clear his name, Tess agrees. But there are lethal secrets hiding in the Charm City shadows. And Tess's own name could end up on the ever-expanding list of Baltimore dead.

My Thoughts:
I received this recommendation from a friend Twitter recently.  Because it was $0.99 on Amazon, I simply could not resist buying it.  I had read Laura Lippman once before, and I loved her I'd Know You Anywhere.  When I found out that she wrote a long series, I had to check it out!

This novel is the first in the Tess Monaghan series.  It is set in Baltimore (duh), which I actually have never visited.  I read some reviews that mentioned that Lippman has lived in Baltimore, which I think is cool.  Perhaps if I had been to Baltimore, I would have gotten more of the culture references.  I got a little weary of the Baltimore landmark inserts, mainly because I just felt a little lost.  It reminded me of reading The Lord of the Rings when I had to keep going back to the front of the book to see the map.  Maybe a personal pet peeve, but I was a little annoyed.

I have to say that my overall feeling for this novel was “eh.”  Maybe I had my hopes too high because I had read her awesome new release.  But I simply was not impressed with the mystery.  I kept reading because I wanted to know the answers, but I did not get excited until the very end. 
I remember thinking after everything was set up “that’s all?  That’s what the whole book is about?”  And there were more details to come and everything, but I felt that more effort was made to set up the background of the series than the mystery of this first novel.  I just thought that the potential for the mystery was there, but it was not explored to full capacity.  I wasn't sure how everything fit together, and parts of the mystery still do not make complete sense to me.  There was not a part that explained everything and how it fit together. 

Tess was simply not a character I could like in this novel.  Perhaps Lippman is setting up the background for the next novels, but I sorta disliked her.  She was lazy and annoying.  And I’m not sure how smoking pot and continually letting an ex use her makes her lovable.  I just did not get it.  I can see how her character has room for improvement, so hopefully in the next books she will improve.

But I have to say that my favorite characters were all of the supporting characters.  I loved how quirky everyone was.  It reminded me of Stephanie Plum and her pack.  I loved the community Lippman created.  Everyone had a distinct personality, and the surrounding characters provided several of the laughs I enjoyed.

Overall, I liked the novel, but it had too many pet peeves of mine to make it a favorite.  I am looking forward to reading the next book in the series, as I think it has lots of potential for improve.  If you aren’t like me, and don’t tend to find pet peeves in novels, you may like it.  I’d recommend it really for Lippman fans right now.  Perhaps once I read the second book, I’ll have more to say.  I'm hoping it's one of the those books that I will like more in retrospect.

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