Read Baltimore Blues by Laura Lippman Online


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"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" Paxton.In a city where someone is murdered almost everyday, attorney Michael Abramowitz's death should be just another statistic. But the slain lawyer's notoriety -- and his noontime trysts with Rock's fiancee -- make the case front page news...and points to Rock as the likely murderer. But trying to prove her friend's innocence could prove costly to Tess -- and add her name to that infamous ever-growing list....

Title : Baltimore Blues
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780061806612
Format Type : ebook
Number of Pages : 285 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Baltimore Blues Reviews

  • Dan Schwent
    2019-04-22 22:40

    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 particular instance.Baltimore Blues is a mystery that has many more layers than it first appears, like baklava. See, I could have said "onion" but that's what everyone says when they talk about layers. Anyway, it was Laura Lippman's first trip to the dance and she did a lot better than most first time novelists. As the title indicates, Baltimore plays a big part in the book, almost a character in and of itself, much like George Pelecanos' Washington DC, Dennis Lehane's Boston, and Lawrence Block's New York. Much like Detroit, Baltimore doesn't get by on looks. It has to work for a living, to paraphrase Elmore Leonard.Since this was the first book in the series, Lippman had some groundwork to lay and she did it in a fairly painless way. We know Tess is into rowing, has an on again/off again reporter boyfriend named Jonathan and used to be a reporter but we don't get clubbed over the head with any of it. I liked that Tess isn't hot, wasn't involved in a love triangle, and generally behaved like a real person instead of being a moron like most fictional detectives wind up being in order to advance the plot. Also, she works in a bookstore. A lady detective that works in a bookstore? Hard to top that, ladies.Like all great mysteries, it took me forever to figure out what really happened and it turned out I was still wrong. Part of it was misdirection but I have to say I think another part of it was that it was such a convoluted affair. That was my only gripe with the book. I thought the mystery was way too serpentine and not readily solveable. Also, I'm still pretty sure Ava was boning somebody besides Rock but that was never revealed.So, I liked Baltimore Blues quite a lot but not enough to take it into a bus station men's room and have rough intercourse with it. I'll be reading more of Laura Lippman's chronicles of Tess Monaghan. 3.5 out of 5 stars.

  • Diane
    2019-04-14 22:39

    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 about the different neighborhoods as Tess travels around the city to investigate the case. This was my first Laura Lippman book, and I enjoyed this enough that I'll check out more of her work.

  • Melissa
    2019-04-24 03:23

    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 assault, there is always room for her to grow. I'll stick around as long as she doesn't start dating Crow for real.

  • Rollie
    2019-03-25 04:40

    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.

  • Carol
    2019-04-02 05:47

    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 journalist but unlike the author who chooses writing, Tess turns her hand to private investigation. She doesn't know that this is where her life is headed at the outset of Baltimore Blues but I think the reader can see this clearly from the get go. You immediately know that this is a series where location will be just as important as the characters. By page 5 references are made to the city including one by the Mayor who calls Baltimore the "The City that Reads" and Tess dubs The city that bleeds", fodder for investigation if I ever saw one. She then goes on to call it "the city one leaves" also illustrating a mood. We find out little things about Tess that help us to form a picture in our minds. She's a rower, a good rower who others think could be great if she only had the interest. She runs too which gives us a picture of a fit woman, one capable and strong. I love that Tess lives in a row house above her Aunt Kitty's bookstore, Women and Children First. Making this Tess's home tells me reading and books are important to Lippman and therefore to her character. There are many references to support my claim. Tess has a sense of humor and seems a loyal friend. She has a what I can only call a convenient sexual relationship with a reporter who has a girlfriend and who becomes part of Tess's first dip into deduction. Tess has me just interested enough to try another.

  • Kendra
    2019-03-23 22:32

    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 always looking for a good series, so I plan to find the second book soon.

  • Laura
    2019-04-13 05:39

    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!

  • Barbara
    2019-04-21 00:26

    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 Baltimore, being on a tributary of Chesapeake Bay. She is also a runner and with the hours she spends daily on her exercise routines, it's a good thing she is not fully employed. Being a rower, however, fits into her getting her start as an investigator. A fellow rower hires her to trail his fiance. When there's a murder, her rowing friend is a suspect and Tess goes to work as an investigator for his lawyer. I have been reading this series for over 10 years. The first novel was published in 1997 and there are many aspects of the story that remind us how much things have changed in 18 years. For example, Tess often makes phone calls from pay phones that even in 1997 weren't easy to find.A satisfying mystery, and decent narration. The narrator makes a decent stab at Baltimore accents for various characters, and it adds to the color.

  • Christine
    2019-04-03 22:50

    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.

  • Nan
    2019-04-08 03:47

    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, starts working as a detective. A friend asks her to investigate his fiance, and this one request has a large number of consequences for everyone involved in their lives. What I liked most about this book was Baltimore. I haven't been to Charm City, and I'm sure Baltimore of today is different from the time when they had almost a murder-a-day. However, I do work in Detroit, and I dearly love that city. What I saw in this book was almost a love letter to Baltimore. The city, with its crime and its neighborhoods and its impossible map and local businesses, lives and breathes on the pages of Lippman's book. I don't know if the locations she writes about are real. But I can believe they are. And, when reading a book with such a power setting as Baltimore, that's all that matters.

  • John Carter McKnight
    2019-04-02 22:40

    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 working out, scrounging, drifting, until a friend asks her to check up on his shady girlfriend. Set in Baltimore in the 90's, Baltimore Blues is a big canvas of loss: the city's loss of identity, the end of the newspaper era, chronic underemployment. Lippman takes this cast of scroungers, hangers-on, the checked-out, and weaves a strong narrative with everything from serial killers to grifters to scammers, janitors to millionaires.It's not great literature by any means, but it's a damn solid mystery, and I'll be reading more in the series.

  • Ellie
    2019-04-19 04:42

    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 faithful. Tess follows the not-very-nice girlfriend and her trail leads her to corpses and her friend's arrest as a murderer.If this all seems predictable, well, it is somewhat but deftly done and well presented. It was good to track Tess to her beginnings. I will go back and read more in this pleasant series.

  • Pamela Trawick
    2019-03-30 22:30

    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.

  • Amanda McGill
    2019-03-24 00:39

    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.

  • Laurel-Rain
    2019-04-18 05:32

    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 favor, for which he will pay her what will be a rather nice amount, so she agrees. He wants her to follow his fiancé, Ava Hill, who works for a well-known law firm in Baltimore. She is reluctant, but soon finds herself immersed in it all. Could this kind of work be her new passion?But what Tess discovers leads to a series of unfortunate incidents. Ava seems to be having an affair with one of her bosses, Michael Abramowitz, and Tess somehow threatens Ava into telling Rock herself, before she does. What she hadn't anticipated would be Ava lying and making it sound as if Abramowitz had "forced" her.So when Abramowitz ends up dead, shortly after Rock had been to see him, Rock is arrested and charged with the murder.His lawyer, another old rowing buddy, convinces Tess to continue working as an investigative assistant, searching for possible suspects or ways to create reasonable doubt.From there, the story takes a number of somewhat curious turns as Tess follows one clue after another, revealing to the reader how much she still has to learn. Much of what she discovers could be considered accidental, and where it all ends up is rather serendipitous. But in the end, there is a satisfactory resolution. A few other casualties along the way make it all seem realistic for a novice detective.I have read and enjoyed several books in this series, and my favorite parts involve Tess in her surroundings, with her friends, while enjoying an insider's view of her world. This first outing was not my favorite, but I have added Tess to my list of intriguing detectives. 4.0 stars.

  • Eunyoung
    2019-03-31 04:32

    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 lighter and attempts at humor fell a little flat at times. I didn't care much for Tess. It annoyed me that she freeloaded off her family and friends and even the government when legal- proudly too (printing free copies at the library just because it was free and she felt entitled to them because she's a tax paying citizen- nothing particularly WRONG but a little annoying in conjunction with all her other quirks). Her ability to lie seemed to come too naturally and sleeping with an ex who has a girlfriend didn't seem to bother her too much. When you can't come up with one positive personality trait about the main protagonist, it makes it hard to like the book. I felt there was a lot of story lines that were dropped and/or not given adequate attention. What happened to Rock? Even though the whole book centers around Tess trying to solve Rock's case, he's barely mentioned after the first few chapters. And what about his relationship with Ava? Yes, we find out what happens to her at the very end of the book, but nothing is mentioned what happened between them. Overall, I enjoyed her standalone books a lot more than this one about Tess. Perhaps I should give it one more chance and read the next one in the series "Charm City"?

  • Diane
    2019-04-05 01:47

    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 building gradually.  She seemed to me to have a nice self-deprecating sense of humor.  I like what the author chooses to insert as she spins the tale, such as defining the grammatical term "appositive."  In context, Tess wonders what appositive (such as "unemployed woman playing at detective") will appear in her obituary as she tries to escape someone bent on killing her.In this book, Tess works to clear a friend from a murder charge.

  • Marleen
    2019-03-31 03:36

    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 passable. It could have done with a little more depth. The mystery plot was average. I had an inkling of what might unfold and who the culprits were. Admittedly, the humor was not always spot on, but it gave the book a lighter tone, for sure.One of the major negative points was the editing. I don't know, was it due to the e-book transcript? But it’s somewhat irritating to go through these grammatical errors and weird syntax.

  • Cathy Kanaday
    2019-03-29 02:44

    After lovingLaura Lippman'sWhat 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's love of rowing and her working-class Irish/Jewish heritage in the city. One of my favorite poems, Housman's "Terrence, This is Stupid Stuff," factored into the story, as well. Very enjoyable. I accidentally picked up the third one,Butcher Hill, and feel like I missed some developments in Tess's life, so I'm off to track down #2.

  • Chris
    2019-04-11 01:46

    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 beautiful touches of humor. There is a wonderful sense of place. Plus, any book that makes reference to Possession and Homicide is great.

  • Sharon
    2019-04-16 22:53

    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 doesn't like Ava but she thinks that if she confronts Ava then she'll have to sort stuff out. She's hoping for a good outcome for her buddy Rocky. Just not to be, the result of her intervention seems to be a dead lawyer, a unpopular lawyer who does not seem to be a loss to the human race, but dead nonetheless, and the clues are all pointing at the Rock.

  • Andrea
    2019-04-16 21:37

    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.

  • CJ
    2019-04-14 21:23

    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!).

  • Enchantressdebbicat ☮
    2019-04-02 21:45

    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.

  • J.W.
    2019-04-04 05:44

    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!

  • Kaethe
    2019-03-24 02:51

    Tess is a rower, a sport about which I know nothing, so I liked that. I also enjoyed her reporter-background, and her extensive family connections, and the bookstore. A perfectly good set-up for a series.Mostly, though, I just like Lippman's writing.Library copy

  • Juliesque
    2019-04-14 00:53

    There were parts of this book that I thought were really good and parts that lost me. I may have to read more books in the series to see how the character evolves. This book was written long enough ago that there is hardly any technology in it ... refreshing if distracting part of the mystery.

  • Holly West
    2019-04-18 00:33

    I don't know why it took me so long to get around to reading Lippman's Tess Monaghan series, but now that I've finished book one, I look forward to reading the rest of the series. Baltimore Blues serves as a great introduction to an appealing character and I'm interested in seeing where Lippman takes her in future books. This is a solid mystery that skillfully balances plot with character development and the atmosphere of its setting.

  • Sarah
    2019-04-18 05:37

    Baltimore Blues. Laura Lippman. 1997. Avon. 290 pages. ISBN 0380788756.Baltimore Blues is Laura Lippman's debut and first novel in the mystery series featuring heroine Tess Monaghan, a witty, wise-ass, intelligent, athletic (and pot-smoking!) reporter-turned-private eye you'll end up loving. In fact, Tess Monaghan is exactly why I'll be reading the rest of this series, which will soon be eleven books deep when The Girl in the Green Raincoat releases next year in 2011.Tess' best friend Darryl "Rock" Paxton hires her to perform freelancing amateur detective work to follow around his girlfriend Ava, a stuck-up lawyer with an addictive shoplifting habit who has been acting strange and distant toward Rock. When Ava's boss and attorney Michael Abramowitz is found murdered, Rock is the prime suspect. With Tess caught in the middle, she devises numerous schemes to nab the true killer and clear her best friend's name.Baltimore Blues is the perfect fit for mystery lovers who enjoy both the cozy and crime procedural sub-genres. The novel has a contemporary feel that will cater to and please both crowds. Tess has so much charisma and would have amazing screen-presence if she were a movie star. Rock's character is just as enjoyable as Tess in his own way, and I hope to see more of him in the future. It's easy to see why a very successful series has resulted from Baltimore Blues.My only dislike about Baltimore Blues is the choppiness of the story. Sub-plots and side-stories are abundant and all over the place, which I will attribute to this being Lippman's first major novel. On the other hand, this is easy to dismiss because of how magnetic Tess is! I just cannot stress how much her character brings life to the novel.There are many laugh-out-loud funny quotes and inner-monologue provided by Tess, which remind me of Stephanie Plum moments that Janet Evanovich has mastered. One of my favorite examples of inner-monologue by Tess is during a moment meeting with Ava at her apartment:"Right. I strangled and beat a man about twice my size."Ava laughed, a high-pitched girl's laugh learned in grade school and sharpened by years of ridiculing others.Just how hilarious and dead-on is that description?! It's one of many you will find throughout Baltimore Blues.I've got the remainder of the Tess Monaghan series on my wish list. Baltimore Blues follows with Charm City (1997), Butchers Hill (1998), and In Big Trouble (1999).Read more book reviews at

  • Brooke
    2019-03-25 03:40

    I'm glad I didn't read this book when it was first published, because I think I wouldn't have appreciated it as much as I do today. It is refreshing sometimes to read a mystery that takes place in the 1990's before technology changed everything. There are books set in that time, however, that seem clunky. Thank goodness this one didn't. Lippman did a great job weaving a story that kept me engrossed without making me stop to think or question the fact that people didn't understand computers and the internet. It seemed so natural to the story.Tess is a great character. Flawed, honest, believable, with just the right amount of wacky/interesting family members with which she can interact. I wasn't a huge fan of her best friend "Rock" simply because he was too one-dimensional and cared about a woman who obviously didn't care much for him. I look forward to reading another Tess Monaghan book as well as more by Lippman. Incidentally, I only discovered her as an author after watching a movie that was based on one of her novels (Every Secret Thing). I know she was a reporter in Baltimore for a number of years, but even if I didn't know that fact I could guess it by how detailed she gets in descriptions of neighborhoods and the culture of Baltimore in general. An outsider wouldn't know that much detail. She basically made Baltimore another character in the story, similar to how NYC is a character in Sex In the City (different genres, obviously, but the comparison is valid).