Thursday, May 5, 2011

Book Review Thursday - 5/5

I have decided that I will do one post a week on book reviews instead of doing a separate review for each book. If I have a book to review, there will be a post and if I don't, there won't be. Simple, eh? ;)

I recently finished the third and fourth books in the Tess Monaghan series. These books are relatively short books – approximately 8 hours each for the audio version – but there is a fair amount of information packed into each one. With each book, I have learned a little more about Tess and her family and network of friends which is one reason why I really enjoy reading books that are in a series because the author can continually develop the characters.

Butchers Hill is the third book in the series. Tess has opened her own private detective agency with a little help from friends. She also gets help during her investigations from friends that were introduced in the previous books. On one of her first days in the office, she has 2 meetings with brand new clients. The first is an elderly gentleman who was just released from prison and was dubbed the Butcher of Butchers Hill by the papers after firing a gun on the street in front of his row house at a group of kids who were breaking into cars and stealing what they could. He asks Tess to find the kids from the group so he can give them some of his pension to try and make up for what they have been through. The second is a woman around Tess's age who asks Tess to find a missing sister.

In Big Trouble is the fourth book in the series and begins with Tess getting an ominous envelope with a picture of a friend who recently moved to Texas and the caption says, "In Big Trouble." Tess tries to ignore the warning, but eventually ends up calling the parents of the friend to see if they have heard from him and how he is doing. They haven't heard from him in 6 weeks and his mom insists on hiring Tess to find out where he is and what is going on. As much as Tess protests, she finds herself driving to Texas to begin the hunt. 

In both of these books, the quirky friends and family that Tess has and the side kicks that she meets up with play a large part in the entertainment of the stories. It almost makes you wonder if she is drawn to them (or they to her) like a moth to a flame, but as I sit here and think about it, everyone probably has the same kinds of stories about their friends and families. I know I do! I guess that is why I feel a connection to Tess.

In the first 3 books, I enjoyed hearing about Baltimore and how the different areas relate to each other. This theme was very present in Butchers Hill where there was a lot of talk about races and how people from certain areas saw themselves as better than others, but also knew that they were worse than some areas as well. Sort of like which "side of the tracks" you were from.

But Lippman proved that Baltimore is not what makes the series stand out because the majority of In Big Trouble is set in San Antonio, Texas. Tess still learns her way around the cities, finds interesting restaurants and quirky people like the attendant at the motel she stays at and Christina who works at a gallery hawking hideous skeleton artwork.

Also, since Tess is still relatively new to the PI job, she makes some rookie blunders that I hope she learns from for future books.

Overall, I enjoyed both of these books and I can't wait to read more in the series. For now, I am going to turn my attention to Water for Elephants though. What are YOU reading?


Anonymous said...

I'm finishing a political thriller, then I have two threillers and twp of those "girl with a..." books to read. Just need to sit down and read.

Ted and Donna said...

Doing another walk next Saturday. One more T-shirt for the quilt! And I just ordere he firt Tess book on my Kindle. W4E was a great book. Hope you enjoy it. Happy Mother's Day from the pups via Aunt Donn.