Friday, August 6, 2010

In Big Trouble

Laura Lippman

Laura Lippman is a reliable novel producing machine, turning out a book a year, year in and year out and her Tess Monaghan series of crime novels never disappoints. It is a stoke of luck that Lippman has a backlog of Tess Monaghan stories that were originally published only in mass market paperback and which are now seeing the light of day under hard covers, effectively doubling her published output.

In Big Trouble is one of these. It fits in chronologically between Butcher's Hill and The Sugar House and helps to cement Tess' relationship with her musician boyfriend, Crow Ransome.  Crow has left Baltimore and gone  to Texas to pursue his musical ambitions in the thriving Austin music scene.

The novel draws Tess away from Baltimore to San Antonio, Texas, where Lippman worked as a journalist before returning o Maryland to work at the Blight, I mean the Sunpapers.  This gives Lippman a chance to show off another city that she knows well.

There are a few small bobbles, plotwise, in the book. Tess is drawn to Texas by a mysterious envelope containing a picture of Crow cut out of a newspaper with the words "In Big Trouble" printed over his head. It turns out hat this is part of a publicity shot for his new Texas band, which has left Austin for San Antonio. Who sent it and why? Late in the book Lippman flatly states that Crow did but gives no explanation, yet this is the impetus for the entire string of events. He couldn't write and say, hey we've got a bit of a problem here? It's not even clear that Crow wanted Tess' help. 

The San Antonio police have a warrant for Crow's arrest at one point but the only evidence they have is a shotgun tat the find in an illegal search of his room after they execute the warrant. How did they get the warrant?

Despite thes errors in plotwriting, In Big Trouble is an enjoyable read. You are unlikely to guess who done it. Actually, as in many of Lippman's books, you are unlikely to gues what was actually done.

Keywords: crime fiction, Laura Lippman, Tess Monaghan


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