"Return each week to meet a member of Tess’s inner circle. Use the interactive audio map to learn about her beloved Baltimore. Listen to a new excerpt from Hush Hush, and enter for a chance to win e-books and digital audiobooks from the series."
Hush Hush (Tess Monaghan #12) by Laura Lippman
Publisher: William MorrowPublished: February 24, 2015Pages: 320Received: for honest review by publisher and TLC Book ToursOn 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. . . .
So for my first Tess Monaghan novel I really enjoyed it. And I think I'll go back and read the previous books in the series too. Also, I love that Sandy from After I'm Gone is Tess' partner. (I knew that he made an appearanve in the Tess novels, so I was happy to see him in my first read).
Now I am sure that reading the series in order would give you a lot more background on Tess and some of the supporting characters, but I didn't find that it took away from the story of who she was working for or why. I think you get enough backstory to understand Tess and her methods, but in no way does it distract from the main story of the case she is working on. I will, however, enjoy going back to read about Tess and she her growth as a character over the course of the series. I like series that can do this - allow you enjoy the ride along the way, but aren't hard to read as standalones either.
So let's get to the actual story and discuss the craziness that is Melisandre! This lady is all kinds of messed up, from killing her baby twelve years ago to wanting to try and forge a relationship with her teenage daughters that she left. It's a matter of you deciding if she was only crazy when she committed her crime or if she is still slightly off kilter now. Is it possible to change? Is it possible to be only crazy during a certain time in your life and then move on like almost nothing has happened? Can you let that go and accept the person now and let the past be the past? I'm not sure that you can separate feelings or the trust that was broken in such a circumstance.
I enjoyed the idea of Melisandre trying to make a documentary about what happened twelve years ago in her life via interviews of key players. And I really enjoyed how the story unfolded from reading the interviews and seeing the reactions today. I think that helped to play on your emotions and to keep you guessing what's going on. One minute you feel empathy for her and the next you think she's lost her mind again. And you are always guessing who the murderer really is? I got caught in the twist (and I like when that happens).
There are enough characters in this story to keep you guessing, to give new insight into both the current murder and the insanity plea from years before, and enough personal growth for the unconventional PI. Oh and the title and cover image do a great job of making you feel for the family who lost their littlest member. It's also interesting to note that the book really does look at the young daughters who were left alive when their youngest sister was taken too soon. You see how it's affected them both in different ways and how money can't buy everything.
Tess has guts and great intuition. She's a great PI and I love the work/life balance that you see in the story. Always second guessing her abilities as a mother, but never as a private investigator. Looking forward to reading more in the Tess Monaghan series!
About the Author:
Laura Lippman has been awarded every major prize in crime fiction. The recipient of the first Mayor’s Prize, she lives in Baltimore, Maryland, and New Orleans, Louisiana, with her husband, David Simon, and their family.