Monday, March 23, 2015

Hush, Hush, by Laura Lippman

In recent years, Laura Lippman has focused primarily on stand-alone mysteries rather than her Tess Monaghan series--but Tess is back in Hush, Hush. Now the mother of a three-year-old, she has a partner--Sandy Sanchez, the cold case investigator from After I'm Gone, whom I predicted might become a recurring character ( see for proof of my foresight!).

Hush, Hush revolves around Melisandre Dawes, a woman found not guilty by reason of insanity for killing her infant daughter. After more than a decade, she has returned to Baltimore to reunite with her daughters and make a film about the insanity defense, which she feels is misunderstood. She has engaged a down-on-her-luck documentarian, Harmony Burns, to help her, and transcripts of Harmony's interviews for the documentary are interspersed throughout the text. Tess and Sandy have become involved because Melisandre is worried about her security and has asked her old boyfriend (and Tess' uncle) Tyner Gray to help. Tyner arranges for Melisandre to hire Tess and Sandy to make a security assessment for Melisandre. Soon enough, however, they are investigating another death in the Dawes family.

Hush, Hush is almost overcrowded with characters vying for the reader's attention--Tess, Crow, and daughter Carla Scout; Sandy; Tyner and his wife Kitty, who is not happy with Melisandre's intrusion in their lives; Melisandre and Harmony; Melisandre's surviving daughters Alanna and Ruby, both of whom have troubles of their own--and their stepmother Felicia. Sandy, for example, plays such a small part that you wonder why Lippman introduced him to the mix (other than to keep him alive in our imaginations for a later book in which he'll have a bigger role?). Lippman also may have included one too many subplots. Still, Hush, Hush is better than most series mysteries at an advanced point in their development. An entertaining diversion.

Favorite passage:
Baltimore had always had a scruffy side, but it had felt vibrant, a lovable mutt of a city ready to play or brawl.

[Hush, Hush follows on A Spool of Blue Thread--both set in Baltimore by authors who love the city. I'm also in the midst of watching The Wire, so Baltimore is definitely on my mind at the moment.]

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