Thursday, December 10, 2009

Hardly Knew Her

Laura Lippman

Hardly Knew Her is a collection of sixteen short stories and one novella by Baltimore's premier author of crime fiction. The stories tend to be about sex and murder. It's not a good thing in Lippman's universe to leave a woman unfulfilled, it can get you killed. Two of the stories involve Tess Monaghan, star of Lippman's detective story series. One of those is written in the form of an article in the "Beacon Light," the newspaper in Lippman's fictional Baltimore. It is an interview with Monaghan and her best bud, Whitney Talbot. Tess Monaghan fans must read it if they want to keep up with her life.

One short story, and the novella, feature Lippman's take on the "D.C. Madam." Her fictional character doesn't get caught and is very conscientious about providing her employees with security, health insurance and benefits. Lippman has carefully worked out her business plan. I suspect that we will see this character in a novel before long.

The short story is not my favorite reading. Authors tend to get all cute and O. Henry when they write short stories, going for the surprise ending in a predictable way, rather like my book reviews. These stories are no different. After reading a dozen or so of them the reader is no longer surprised to learn that the perky suburban housewife has killed her husband. Lippman's stories are mostly mini murder mysteries with the mystery left out. They are mostly written from the point of view of the murderer, for brevity's sake. For all that, these are very readable stories.

I wonder if the books title is intended to evoke traditional Irish song Johnny I Hardly Knew Ye, from which When Johnny Comes Marching Home was derived. It is the title of one of the stories, of course and on the surface at least is derived from a rather poor one liner, "Poker? I hardly knew her." I like my reference better. It's more literary.

1 comment:

  1. I find this book very interesting and i plan on reading it. Good books are something that can always attract ur attention and keep you asking for more.


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