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As a practiced reporter until her newspaper went to that great pressroom in the sky, P.I. Tess Monaghan knows and loves every inch of her native Baltimore, even the parts being slobbered on by the sad-sack greyhound she's minding for her uncle. It's a quirky city where baseball reigns, but lately homicide seems to be the second most popular local sport. Business tycoon "Wink" Wynkowski is trying to change all that by bringing pro basketball back to town, and everybody's rooting for him -- until a devastating, muckraking expose of his lurid past appears on the front page of the Baltimore Beacon-Light. It's a surprise even to the Blight's editors, who thought they'd killed the piece. Instead, the piece killed Wink -- who's found in his garage with the car running.

Now the Blight wants to nail the unknown computer hacker who planted the lethal story, and the assignment is right up the alley of a former newshound like Tess. But it doesn't take long for her to discover deeper, darker secrets, and to realize that this situation is really more about whacking than hacking. It's just murder in Baltimore these days -- and Tess Monaghan herself might be next on the list.

Topics: Series, Private Investigators, Women Detectives, Journalists, Hackers, Basketball, Undercover Agents, Murder, Dogs, Baltimore, Maryland, Suspenseful, and Touching

Published: HarperCollins on Oct 13, 2009
ISBN: 9780061808531
List price: $5.99
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When I read a Laura Lippman book, I can't help but smile and think of my best friend, who lives in Baltimore. I love how familiar she is with the city and how she lays it out there in the books. This one also showed her roots as a reporter.But while I did grow to like Tess a little bit more in this second installment of the series, I still don't really "care" for her. It's almost like Tess' kooky family is an attempt to mirror the crazy relatives in Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum series and Tess herself is kind of like less likeable Stephanie Plum.I'm not sure if I am going to continue on with this series or not...we'll have to wait & see!read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Like the first book in this series, *Charm City* is tautly written, tightly plotted, and filled with quirky, colorful characters, and set in lovingly rendered 1990s Baltimore's unique combination of seediness and excess. Tess's character seemed to emerge more fully in this novel. In Baltimore Blues, the first book in the series, she seemed somewhat stilted, the product of some kind of genre formula for creating interesting lead character. In this novel, she seems more like a real person, one you can care about, and care to follow as she explores the mysteries of the human heart -- the true subject of noir fiction. On the whole, this was a very enjoyable if still somewhat formulaic book. But it suggests that there is potentially much better to hope for from the the series. I intend to keep reading it.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Writing and plotting are much better in this second installment in the Tess Monaghan series of books. Characters are still just as interesting and crazy as before with some new additions and minor characters. Additionally, the mystery unfolds much better overall. If you're a cozy fan, this is a series to invest in.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
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Reviews

When I read a Laura Lippman book, I can't help but smile and think of my best friend, who lives in Baltimore. I love how familiar she is with the city and how she lays it out there in the books. This one also showed her roots as a reporter.But while I did grow to like Tess a little bit more in this second installment of the series, I still don't really "care" for her. It's almost like Tess' kooky family is an attempt to mirror the crazy relatives in Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum series and Tess herself is kind of like less likeable Stephanie Plum.I'm not sure if I am going to continue on with this series or not...we'll have to wait & see!
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Like the first book in this series, *Charm City* is tautly written, tightly plotted, and filled with quirky, colorful characters, and set in lovingly rendered 1990s Baltimore's unique combination of seediness and excess. Tess's character seemed to emerge more fully in this novel. In Baltimore Blues, the first book in the series, she seemed somewhat stilted, the product of some kind of genre formula for creating interesting lead character. In this novel, she seems more like a real person, one you can care about, and care to follow as she explores the mysteries of the human heart -- the true subject of noir fiction. On the whole, this was a very enjoyable if still somewhat formulaic book. But it suggests that there is potentially much better to hope for from the the series. I intend to keep reading it.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Writing and plotting are much better in this second installment in the Tess Monaghan series of books. Characters are still just as interesting and crazy as before with some new additions and minor characters. Additionally, the mystery unfolds much better overall. If you're a cozy fan, this is a series to invest in.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
This book is the second instalment in the Tess Monaghan series. Set in Baltimore, the author makes sure to highlight this city with many local references. Tess, herself is a very appealing heroine, half-Irish, half-Jewish, intelligent, independent but talking baby-steps into being a full blown adult. This time out she has a full time job and she is thinking seriously of applying for a private investigator’s license.I found the story interesting and it certainly held my attention. Tess takes a job with the local newspaper to investigate who tampered with the computers to insert a story that had been shelved. What I really like about this series is that the plot is complex, with many different angles and story lines that Tess has to follow. This time we have a bid to bring pro-basketball to the city, greyhound rescue, her uncles’ beating, and her concern for her reporter friend Feeney all being thrown in the mix. What comes out is a tightly woven, satisfying murder mystery that left me wanting more.Charm City certainly charmed me with it’s cast of interesting characters, good storyline, and an enjoyable visit to the city of Baltimore, I will be looking forward to reading more of this series.
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Having read two of Lippman's mysteries, I'd classify the plots as solid and competent, interesting but not engrossing. The books excel at describing Baltimore (I grew up in Baltimore County.) Lippman's writing about the city is wonderfully vivid and, more than most, chronicles not only the buildings, but the people and I think would bring the city to life even for those who aren't familiar with it. In this respect, I think that Lippman is better than Anne Tyler. I do have one caveat, one would not guess from this book that most of the population of Baltimore is black. The main problem with the book, unfortunately, is the heroine who is the most implausible private eye I've ever encountered. Miss Marple would eat her for lunch. Tess Monaghan is a very immature, whiny 29-year old, who usually seems about 10 years younger, so diffident that she reminds me of the gooey black mud that coats the bottom of some parts of the Bay and its tributaries: a passive nuisance. She bickers pointlessly with her parents: for example, Tess takes it as a personal affront that her mother likes monochromatic color schemes. This doesn't seem to be the result of losing her only job after the newspaper she worked for folded. She only took that job because one of her friends was a reporter, and when she didn't get a job with the surviving paper, she didn't know what to do. It is hard to fathom why her friends have decided that she should go into detective work, which requires energy, boldness and is potentially dangerous. Tess strikes me as a generally charmless character; I suppose that's why Lippmen gives her a dog in the second book. I often don't find hard-boiled detectives likeable, but as long as I respect them and the stories are good, I don't need to. (Tess is more like half-baked.) A certain sour pettiness goes with the genre. The detective observes all things great and small with an acerbic carping that presumably is intended to show a superior discerning sensibility or entirely too much familiarity with the world's seamy underbelly, but in Tess it's more like tiresome querulousness. After doing a respectable job on her first case, Tess strikes out completely on her second, surviving only because a friend who is considerably faster on the uptake comes to her rescue. Somehow, even as Tess goes about her detecting, what she is shown as doing just doesn't mesh with how she is shown as thinking. Lippman throws in the occasional Good Deed to make her heroine seem more admirable, but it seems more like a formulaic plot contrivance than a natural outcome of Tess' personality. Tess' aunts and uncles, on the other hand are charming and vividly drawn and supply the character interest. So I'd say that if you like books with a strong sense of place, this is a good bet when you're looking for something to read. If character is important to you, or you only like to read this sub-genre is it's really good, I'd look for something else.
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In Book Two of the Tess Monaghan Detective Series, we find the 5’9” twenty-nine year old working as an investigator for her rowing friend/lawyer, Tyner Gray. The series is set in Baltimore, known [in real life] as "Charm City" since 1974 when the Baltimore Promotion Council decided to enhance the city's image by declaring this new nickname. But sometimes, as Tess discovers, it isn't all that charming.Gray lets Tess take a short leave to work on two side matters that have arisen. The first is that someone has beaten her Uncle Spike within an inch of his life; he is now in a coma. She wants to uncover what happened to him and why. Moreover, for however long he is in the hospital, she has custody of his newly acquired ratty-looking greyhound. Second, she was awarded a contract job by the Beacon-Light newspaper to determine how a feature got printed on the front page that was not yet vetted or approved. The story impugned the reputation of Gerard “Wink” Wynkowski, who was trying to bring a basketball team back to Baltimore.Tess is unexpectedly attracted to Jack Sterling, the Deputy Managing Editor of the newspaper, although her twenty-three year old boyfriend, Crow, is living with her now. She breaks up with Crow right before their sixth-month anniversary so she can pursue the surge of electricity she felt upon meeting Sterling.Even while dallying with Jack, Tess continues to work on the two side cases, and pretty soon, she has all kinds of nefarious sorts trying to kill her.Evaluation: This second installment of the Tess Monaghan series won the Edgar and Shamus awards for mysteries. I love the Baltimore setting and the characters are quite likeable. The “whodunit” portions remained mysterious to me until the author clued me in, which I always appreciate in a mystery. I'll keep going with the series!
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