Finished Hush Hush by Laura Lippman. I received a copy from the publisher.
Summary (from Goodreads):
“The award-winning New York Times bestselling author of After I’m Gone, The Most Dangerous Thing, I’d Know You Anywhere, and What the Dead Know brings back private detective Tess Monaghan, introduced in the classic Baltimore Blues, in an absorbing mystery that plunges the new parent into a disturbing case involving murder and a manipulative mother.
On a searing August day, Melisandre Harris Dawes committed the unthinkable: she left her two-month-old daughter locked in a car while she sat nearby on the shores of the Patapsco River. Melisandre was found not guilty by reason of criminal insanity, although there was much skepticism about her mental state. Freed, she left the country, her husband and her two surviving children, determined to start over.
But now Melisandre has returned Baltimore to meet with her estranged teenage daughters and wants to film the reunion for a documentary. The problem is, she relinquished custody and her ex, now remarried, isn’t sure he approves.
Now that’s she’s a mother herself–short on time, patience–Tess Monaghan wants nothing to do with a woman crazy enough to have killed her own child. But her mentor and close friend Tyner Gray, Melisandre’s lawyer, has asked Tess and her new partner, retired Baltimore P.D. homicide detective Sandy Sanchez, to assess Melisandre’s security needs.
As a former reporter and private investigator, Tess tries to understand why other people break the rules and the law. Yet the imperious Melisandre is something far different from anyone she’s encountered. A decade ago, a judge ruled that Melisandre was beyond rational thought. But was she? Tess tries to ignore the discomfort she feels around the confident, manipulative Melisandre. But that gets tricky after Melisandre becomes a prime suspect in a murder.
Yet as her suspicions deepen, Tess realizes that just as she’s been scrutinizing Melisandre, a judgmental stalker has been watching her every move as well. . . . ”
I’ve loved Laura Lippman’s novels for years, and while I absolutely adore her standalones, I have a major soft spot for her Tess Monaghan novels. But Tess has been largely absent for years (completely out of most of the books, although she’s had a few cameos). Now, though, she’s finally back.
It would have been easy to expect her to be gone for good. Now she and Crow have a young daughter, Carla Scout. So how can Tess do her PI work with a three-year-old around? Oh, ye of little faith.
The woman at the center of this novel is Melisandre Dawes, who was found not guilty (by reason of insanity) of killing her baby daughter years ago. She left the child to die in a hot car (on purpose) and fled the city (and state and country) as soon as she could. But now she’s back and she wants to have a relationship with her two older girls, who are now in their teens. There’s a lot more going on, of course, but that would be spoiling things.
Tess Monaghan is one of my favorite characters, someone who is clearly the literary descendent of my beloved VI Warshawski. Like Vic, Tess fights for the underdog and is much braver than anyone could reasonably expect to be. And like Vic, the city she lives in plays a major part in the book. But while VI lives in Chicago, Tess lives in Baltimore. (And in this book, I was happy to see that I knew where every place mentioned was. Love this city!)
If you’ve already read Laura Lippman’s books, I don’t need to sell you on them. If you haven’t, this is an excellent one to start with.