IN A STRANGE CITY by Laura Lippman
Tess Monaghan Series
William Morrow - 2001
ISBN: 0380978180 - Hardcover
Private Investigator

Reviewed by Susan McBride,
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The title of IN A STRANGE CITY seems ironic when Baltimore is the setting for most of the Tess Monaghan books and is the hometown of its author, Baltimore Sun reporter Laura Lippman. But there is a local tradition with which Tess is unfamiliar, and it's that which gets the ball rolling in the latest release from the Edgar Award winning Lippman. Once a year, a cloaked figure shows up at the graveside of Edgar Allan Poe, perhaps Charm City's best-known resident. After leaving three red roses and a half-empty bottle of brandy, he vanishes into the dark. When a decidedly untrustworthy man tries to hire Tess to do surveillance at the annual visitation, in order to supposedly track down a stolen bracelet, Tess spurns the would-be client but shows up at the cemetery nonetheless. After all, she's never gone before. Only this year, the show turns deadly when two cloaked men turn up and one ends up dead.

Though the trail Tess follows to put together the strange pieces in this mystery are intriguing and include many references to the inflated market for antiques and collectibles, the main draw of IN A STRANGE CITY is Lippman's obvious affection for her hometown. The descriptions are sometimes gritty, but always evocative. The fact that Tess Monaghan is a PI second and a human being first also makes this an appealing read. Lippman fans will not be disappointed.

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