Thursday, April 9, 2009

Laura Lippman and Tess Monaghan

I finished reading Laura Lippman’s What the Dead Know last night. It deserved all the awards it won last year. Tightly written, well paced, with exceptional character development and a nice twist at the end.

Last fall I read Hardly Knew Her, a collection of Lippman’s short stories. It, too, was excellent, though, as with all anthologies, some stories were better than others. The stories showed great flair and style, and were a lot of fun to read, a chance to watch a master (mistress?) at work.

Fortunately, I was asked to review Hardly Knew Her, or I would likely not have read it. Why not? Because my previous exposure to Lippman’s work was through one of her Tess Monaghan books, which, quite frankly, I could have lived without. The story was fine, but to me the characters and voice were nothing special. Mainstream boilerplate, safely written.

I have a Tess tome on my bookshelf, so I’ll give her another try, but even her stories in the anthology seemed bland compared to their peers. Laura Lippman is a big deal, and deservedly so. She made her name with the Tess Monaghan series. Am I the only person who feels these stories aren’t her strongest work?

Don’t worry about offending me with your responses. I’m twice divorced.


pattinase (abbott) said...

I loved What the Dead Know and Life Sentences, but I haven't read any of the Tess books. I just don't want to start something I won't finish so I don't begin series anymore. Standalones for me.

Dana King said...

I still like to read a good series, but I feel no obligation tostart at the beginning, or to continue past the point where I'm enjoying the reads. Robert Crais, Declan Hughes, and old 87th Precinct novels are still favorites, and I eagerly look forward to the next Kenzie-Gennaro book from Denns Lehane. On the other hand, Robert B. Parker has grown stale.