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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Man was I wrong!
Laura Lippman took me by surprise, I have to admit. I saw an interview with her on CBS' Sunday Morning a couple of years ago and bought her most recent book for my dad. He's a mystery fan who likes his crime novels on the lighter side than me. I like Lehane, Connelly, Rankin - the noir stuff. How could this woman from Baltimore be writing stuff as good as the guys above...
Published on February 23, 2005 by Raymond M. Rose

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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Nevermore
Every winter on the birthday of Edgar Allan Poe, a mysterious cloaked figure pays a visit to the renowned author's gravesite, bearing gifts of three roses and and half bottle of cognac. PI Tess Monahan is amonst the onlookers at this annual pilgrimage, when two caped visitors approach the gravesite... a shot rings out and one figure falls to the ground while the other...
Published on October 11, 2005 by Beverley Strong


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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Man was I wrong!, February 23, 2005
This review is from: In a Strange City (Tess Monaghan Mysteries) (Mass Market Paperback)
Laura Lippman took me by surprise, I have to admit. I saw an interview with her on CBS' Sunday Morning a couple of years ago and bought her most recent book for my dad. He's a mystery fan who likes his crime novels on the lighter side than me. I like Lehane, Connelly, Rankin - the noir stuff. How could this woman from Baltimore be writing stuff as good as the guys above? Not being sexist, here - I just couldn't see it. I should have thought of Laurie R. King who's Kate Martinelli series is as dark and good as the guys above. But, I didn't. I'm a moron! I just plowed through a litany of other books to read until I came upon this book. I asked my dad if he liked her and he replied, "Yes. A lot!" It dealt with Edgar Allen Poe and the Poe Visitor. Seemed interesting. So I gave it a try.

Man, was I wrong! Laura is great! Strange City is witty and dark and quick-paced and has characters that are real and fantastic. Tess is one hell of a woman and I'm okay to admit that I'm a little in love with her. She's smart and sexy and tough but still vulnerable. I totally underestimated Laura and I promise that I will never to do that again.

Keep at it Laura - Spenser ain't got nothing on you!
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A not-to-be missed novel, September 11, 2001
By 
Doris Ann Norris (Fostoria, OH United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Just when one thinks that Laura Lippman has hit her peak (as in "Sugar House"), she surprises the reader by going up a couple of more notches and she started out on a very high level with her first Tess Monaghan book, "Baltimore Blues."
In this fascinating novel, centered around the Baltimore tradition of the Poe Toaster who visits the author's grave each year on the anniversary of his death, Lippman has created a marvelous story.
Her characters, especially her protagonist Tess, continue to grow while her secondary characters are three dimensional. It's true that some of them would not be people you'd care to meet in a dark alley or even in a crowded room, but they fill the pages of the story and leave a lasting impression.
This is a fast paced mystery with Tess in the middle of collectors, Poe experts and police as she attempts to solve the murder as well as they mystery of Poe's anonymous visitor.
Highly recommended.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A UNIQUE AND COMPELLING READ, October 27, 2001
Crime writer Laura Lippman, the winner of every important mystery award (an Edgar, a Shamus, an Anthony, and an Agatha), now pays tribute to the man many consider to be the world's premier mystery writer - Edgar Allen Poe. "In A Strange City," Lippman's sixth novel to feature PI Tess Monaghan is set in Baltimore where in the predawn hours of every January 19th, the anniversary of Poe's birthday, a coterie of the famed author's fans wait to see a mysterious visitor who comes to Poe's tomb bearing 3 blood red roses and a bottle of cognac.
This year, Tess is among those waiting for a glimpse of the mysterious "Poe Visitor." She is surprised to see not one but two cloaked men carrying the appropriate tributes; she is even more surprised to see one murdered as the other escapes into the semi-darkness.
Bobby Hilliard, a 28-year-old gay waiter is the victim. The senseless beating of another gay man some days earlier and Hilliard's death arouse the local gay and lesbian rights group headed by Tess's former friend attorney Cecelia Cesnik. The group insists that a maniacal homophobe is running amok.
Tess soon finds herself enmeshed in a multi-layered swirl of events pulling her in opposite directions. Hammered on by the chief detective who thinks she knows more than she's telling, our heroine is also stalked by an unknown person who leaves cognac and three red roses by her front door.
There's more than mere murder here as Tess suspects a complicated scheme involving priceless antiques and other black marketables begins to emerge.
Ms. Lippman has laced her latest thriller with strains of greed and homophobia, and included such Poe-isms as a victim buried alive and a ticking clock. It makes for a unique and compelling read.
- Gail Cooke
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Poe's Visitor and the Gold Bug, October 28, 2002
By 
Fred Camfield (Vicksburg, MS USA) - See all my reviews
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"These our actors, as I foretold you, were all spirits, and are melted into air, into thin air..." (from Shakespeare's "The Tempest"). This is one of the best mysteries I have read in recent years. It is an intriguing tale that revolves around the mysterious Visitor to Poe's grave who, every year, leaves three red roses and a half bottle of cognac. It is January 19. Baltimore private investigator Tess Monaghan and her boyfriend, Crow, are among the spectators keeping watch at Poe's grave. A cloaked figure appears, and then another. A shot is fired and a cloaked figure falls, mortally wounded. The second cloaked figure escapes in the commotion, fading into the shadows.
The case becomes complicated. There are people trying to identify and find the visitor for personal agendas. There are charges that the murder was a hate crime - the victim identified as a ... waiter. Tess is drawn into the case, willing or not, because other players think she may have information. Mysterious notes appear, along with roses or rose petals, from an unknown individual attempting to enlist her aid. There are questions about thefts of rare books and memorabilia. And there is collateral damage.
Along the way there are tidbits of information about Baltimore, and about Edgar Allan Poe including a pertinent poem ("From childhood's hour I have not been As others were; I have not seen As others saw; I could not bring My passions from a common spring." - from Poe's "Alone"). The case gradually unfolds as information develops about various players. Some people become unlikely allies, and relationships between people are revealed as the case is solved. Tess becomes the guardian of another dog, a friendly doberman named Miata.
But that is not the end of the story because the Visitor is still involved, a mysterious cloaked figure of many faces, and there must be a meeting before the visitor fades into thin air. And will the Visitor be back next year? You might have to go to Baltimore next January 19, if you are willing to spend a cold night at a graveyard.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Nevermore, October 11, 2005
This review is from: In a Strange City (Tess Monaghan Mysteries) (Mass Market Paperback)
Every winter on the birthday of Edgar Allan Poe, a mysterious cloaked figure pays a visit to the renowned author's gravesite, bearing gifts of three roses and and half bottle of cognac. PI Tess Monahan is amonst the onlookers at this annual pilgrimage, when two caped visitors approach the gravesite... a shot rings out and one figure falls to the ground while the other escapes. When Tess recieves a visit from a strange, round ,little man who wants her to locate some mysterious missing goods connected with Poe, she and her boyfriend Crow become involved in a case of murder, theft, stalking and obbsessive collecting, all of which revolves around the life of Poe. I didn't really care all that much for this book, as I found it to be very muddled and rather difficult to follow. I've loved the previous books featuring Tess and Co., so hope that the next one is more appealing.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Kennedy Dust In your Eyes, September 7, 2001
From the start Laura Lippman tries to trip up her readers by flicking a little Kennedy dust in their eyes. However, mystery fans who are also devoted rail road buffs and especially Baltimore and Ohio Rail Road buffs instinctively and adroitly fend off her efforts by instant recognition of the name JOHN PENDLETON KENNEDY. She even tries to steer one by mentioning the more fabled name John F. Kennedy. Nice try, Laura, but no sale here. Just who was John Pendleton Kennedy? Was he just another obscure 19th century lawyer, politician with hankering for literary fame? In addition to being intimately associated with Edgar Allen Poe he was also the member of Congress from Baltimore who sponsored the 1843 legislation to gain a hefty Federal subsidy for the first Morse telegraph line. He was also involved up to his ear lobes in rail road legislation, especially for the B&O R.R. He wrote a couple of not-so-notable novels of the period. He was well-to-do and helped Poe out with money and jobs many more times than once, but Poe could not stay away from the bottle.
E.A. Poe or his remains anyway, are center stage for a good deal of the time in this fascinating mystery. Lippman's chief PI, Tess Monaghan, and her six years junior beau, Crow are busy as beavers with the reluctant help of Pigtown native Gretchen O'Brien, a recently cashiered Baltimore cop turned PI. They have more than one crime to solve. Picayune and Byzantine lore of the old "Patapsico" town is littered all over the place. We learn about the light bulb museum, the Maryland Mu-sheum and of all things a feminine hygiene museum in Prince George's County near the U of Maryland main campus at College Park. It gets weird and weirder.
Get this book and all the other Laura Lippman titles. She takes you through a tale "In a Strange City" that is well worth the easy, face-paced effort. I met and chatted with herself at a "meet the author" session last year when she was promoting her last book "Sugar Shack". She is a real charmer and an authentic product of America's most authentic city, Charm City --- Baltimore, Maryland. If she is going to appear in a city near you or on the TV, do not miss seeing and hearing Laura Lippman. This is a really good read and I wish I could give it more than 5 stars.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars This is what PI fiction is about....., January 27, 2002
By 
B. English (Rock Island, WA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Laura Lippman's Tess Monaghan is truly one of the most appealing and original PI protagonist to have appeared in last few years. She is not a self assured repository of cliches, but a three dimensional person, occasionally irritating but always interesting and sympathetic. WIth this book, Lippman's sixth in the series, the Monaghan series rises to it's full potential as one of the premiere PI series of the last decade.
In A Strange City opens up with a scene that harkens back to a Hammett or Chandler novel: a grotesquely overweight man hires Monaghan to follow a man to recover a necklace he says was stolen from him. Seems pretty straightforward, except for the fact that the man he wants her to follow is a local Baltimore legend known as the "Poe Visitor", a cloaked figure who lays a tribute of roses and cognac at the grave of Edgar Allen Poe at the anniversary of his death.
Of course things quickly go haywire as Monaghan is thrust into a murky plot which includes fanatical bibliofiles, an antagonistic homicide detective and a series of assaults and burglaries that seem to target gay men. It's a murky stew, but it's actually quite an original plot and Lippman's prose makes it seem perfectly clear and convincing.
The best part of this series (indeed, the best part of all detective fiction) is the sense of place and setting which brings the city of Baltimore true to life. The only thing I knew about Baltimore came from episodes of "Homicide:Life on the Streets"("The Best Damn Show on TV"). But reading this series makes me seem like I've been living there for years.
I gave this book less than five stars (Four and a half, really, but I can't give half ratings) because I spotted the killer fairly easily. But that really doesn't take from the book. After all, the best part of detective fiction is not who killed who. It's the journey that counts.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars LIPPMAN'S TOAST TO POE, September 10, 2001
By 
As a mystery writer with my debut novel in its initial release, I genuinely enjoyed Laura Lippman's toast to our genre's founder, Edgar Allan Poe. In her latest novel, IN A STRANGE CITY, Ms. Lippman plants her protagonist, Tess Monaghan, in the middle of a contemporary mystery story that is a pure tribute to Poe. A murder occurs during the observance of Poe's birthday at the great author's tomb when two cloaked Visitors show up with roses and cognac to serve as the Poe Toaster. A shot is fired. One toaster dies. The other flees. Tess witnesses the homicide and soon finds herself involved in other Poe-esque plot elements. The story includes multiple murders, a woman buried alive, and still unanswered questions involving Poe's life. As usual, Lippman's writing is first-rate and her beloved Baltimore is rendered perfectly. IN A STRANGE CITY is Lippman's best book yet. Read it. You won't be disappointed.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Fun, Smart Page-Turner, January 1, 2003
By 
A. Wolverton (Crofton, MD United States) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
`In a Strange City' is my first experience reading Laura Lippman, but I hope to have many more. You should too.
PI Tess Monaghan turns down a would-be client who wants her to unmask the "Poe Toaster," a mysterious person who visits Edgar Allan Poe's gravesite each year with three roses and half a bottle of cognac. Although she refuses to take the case, Tess can't help being curious. On the anniversary of Poe's death, Tess expects to stand at a distance and see a strange caped individual visit the cold Baltimore grave site. But she sees two caped figures. One dies from a bullet, the other escapes. Then things get really creepy when Tess receives cryptic notes at her door...along with three roses and a half bottle of cognac.
`In a Strange City' is a pleasure to read because it works on so many levels. Lippman writes a very smart tale with wonderful descriptions of Baltimore and its people, but that's only part of what makes the book work. She not only knows how to write great characters, she also pens believable dialogue. Her examination of Poe devotees and collectors is nothing short of fascinating. Many excellent mystery writers are capable of presenting readers with an entertaining, intriguing story, but Lippman takes it a step further. When I closed the book, I knew I had finished a great story, but I also knew that I was going to be forced to examine the possessions I cherish and ask myself how far I would go to protect them?
A very satisfying read - 310 pages
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Librarians, Maryland and Poe-- PERFECT!!, December 6, 2001
What a sweet combination of Maryland moments, wacky bibliophiles and morose, mysterious Poe! Lara Lippman's settings are wonderful; how I long to wander the streets with Tess, watch the Terps on television and discuss the oddities of people with Crow. It brought back the sweet nostaglia of a childhood in Maryland (even if I was clear down in DC suburbs!)
The librarians in the book were perfect for the library world, where one moment innocuous behavior becomes derranged edgy obsessions. This book made me homesick for Maryland... and the mystery was extraordinarily good, too. Best book of the series to date.
In my Top Five for 2001, an excellent read!
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In a Strange City (Tess Monaghan Mysteries)
In a Strange City (Tess Monaghan Mysteries) by Laura Lippman (Mass Market Paperback - October 1, 2002)
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