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To the Power of Three Hardcover – June 14, 2005

3.7 out of 5 stars 78 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The trouble with writing the Tess Monaghan mysteries is that fans want more, more, more. Lippman scored big with her 2003 stand-alone, Every Secret Thing, but this one doesn't pack the same punch. Here's Baltimore—outlying Glendale, anyway. Here are two terrific cops: Sgt. Harold Lenhardt, the family man, and his partner, Kevin Infante, who dates babes. But where's a woman to inspire and worry us, as Tess does? Lippman's latest teems with female characters, but none whose POV elicits strong emotion. Since third grade, three girls have been best friends: rich, pretty Kat Hartigan, athletic Josie Patel and dramatic Perri Kahn. Now high school seniors, they've come to a gruesome end in the girls' bathroom. Kat is dead. Perri, the presumptive shooter, is missing half her face. Josie has a bullet in her left foot. She alone can talk, and it's clear to Lenhardt that she's lying. Lippman zigzags her way to the moment of truth. Some of the scenes are wonderfully well told, and Lippman, as always, neatly skewers people in power (the school principal tells a 911 dispatcher, "I wouldn't characterize it so much as a school shooting... but as a shooting at the school"). But this novel doesn't so much rise above genre as make one miss it.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Bookmarks Magazine

The award-winning author of the Tess Monaghan mysteries has written an independent crime thriller and coming-of-age mystery. The 1999 Columbine High School massacre received great media attention; here, Lippman shows that girls possess the same capacity for violence. Critics agree that Lippman writes with great empathy and insight into the ups-and-downs of teenage friendship, high school peer pressures, and the ways in which violence affects the community. But the novel is too long, contains inaccurate forensic details, and creates characters who are detailed to the point of becoming dull. Despite these flaws, To the Power of Three is a gripping, readable exposé of teenage girls’ psychology.

Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc.


Product Details

  • Series: Tess Monaghan Mysteries
  • Hardcover: 434 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow; First Edition edition (June 14, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060506725
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060506728
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.4 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (78 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,888,550 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Laura Lippman was a reporter for twenty years, including twelve years at The (Baltimore) Sun. She began writing novels while working fulltime and published seven books about "accidental PI" Tess Monaghan before leaving daily journalism in 2001. Her work has been awarded the Edgar ®, the Anthony, the Agatha, the Shamus, the Nero Wolfe, Gumshoe and Barry awards. She also has been nominated for other prizes in the crime fiction field, including the Hammett and the Macavity. She was the first-ever recipient of the Mayor's Prize for Literary Excellence and the first genre writer recognized as Author of the Year by the Maryland Library Association. Ms. Lippman grew up in Baltimore and attended city schools through ninth grade. After graduating from Wilde Lake High School in Columbia, Md., Ms. Lippman attended Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism. Her other newspaper jobs included the Waco Tribune-Herald and the San Antonio Light. Ms. Lippman returned to Baltimore in 1989 and has lived there since.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
This is one of the must reads of 2005. Lippman's powerful characterizations of three high school girls in a well heeled Baltimore suburb are completely gripping. By alternating between various points of view, Lippman is able to give the reader a completely dimensional view of all the characters and why the school shooting that begins the book happened the way it did. The shooting is the beginning and the novel works backwards, tracing the girls friendship and development from 3rd grade through high school, as well as documenting their complete social enviornment. This book is written with such exqusite perception that I could have read on for 800 pages rather than the 400 provided, but for the student of human nature this is not to be missed. Oh yeah, it also has a great story.
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Format: Hardcover
I agree with other reviewers here that it's her writing that makes this book a good read. Her ability to bring you where the characters are is outstanding.

But what about the story?

I am an avid mystery/thriller reader...thus I read that way. Lippman gives you all wonderful details about characters...which you attend to as the reader, trying to figure which detail is the "clue" that is how the book will end. To her credit...I did go in a few directions of why what happened...happened.

But...I got to the last page, slammed the book closed in my hand and said "you've GOT to be kidding!'...and shook my head going into the shower (mind you I got up 2 hours EARLY to finish the book!)

So that is the conflict in my review. Obviously it was good enough for me to want to give up 2 hours sleep for to see how it ended...but I was ticked I did.

In retrospect I would say if you read the book and do not approach it as a mystery/thriller genre...then it's a good read. If you're looking for that genre...I wouldn't say it satisfies.
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Format: Hardcover
The psychological thriller deserves its own designation as a mystery subgenre. It certainly is becoming more popular. The Brits seem to have perfected it with the work of Ruth Rendall, Minette Walters, Andrew Taylor and the remarkable Mandesue Heller among many many others. These books have in common very strong characterizations with the underlying sense of foreboding. Either a crime has taken place and the characters must deal with that or there is the chilling possibility of a crime that might occur at any moment. These books slowly and inexorably bind the reader up with a whole host of tensions. The characters might be likable or odious. The one thing they all have in common is the ability to make a reader read compulsively to discover the ultimate conclusion and may take its time getting there.

Laura Lippman, so well known from her Tess Monaghan series, wrote her first stand alone which was published two years ago entitled EVERY SECRET THING. This marked a remarkable change in her writing while revealing her ability to fully flesh out human suffering. It is a chilling novel that many considered the very best of the year. Now she returns with another psychological thriller even richer and more fully detailed than the last work.

Three friends are found in a school bathroom. All are shot. Kat Hartigan, the popular one who everybody loves, is dead with a gunshot wound to the chest. Josie Patel, the athletic one, has been shot in the foot and the brooding actress Perri Kahn, said to be the cause of it all, is critically wounded with an apparently self inflicted bullet through her face. The question that must be answered is- what actually happened and why?
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Format: Hardcover
Three girls became best friends in their third grade. Now, a decade later, one of them is dead, one badly wounded, and the third injured in a school shooting. The evidence seems compelling--one of the three girls brought the gun to school. But for what happened next, the one witness's testimony and that left by physical evidence varies. It's up to Police Sergeant Harold Lenhardt to piece together the clues and see if he can arrive at the truth. Guidance counselor Alexa Cunningham wants to help--but she also wants to get Lenhardt into bed which makes her less than the ideal assistant. Still, Cunningham knows one thing--somewhere, there's another witness.

The story veers back between the tramatic post-shooting period to the earlier lives of the three girls, to the pact they made in the woods behind their homes that they would always remain friends, through their discovery of boys, until their senior year when something went horribly wrong with their friendship. Lenhardt believes that if he could uncover what happened, he would arrive at the truth, but no one is talking.

TO THE POWER OF THREE is a strange book. None of the characters is especially likable, certainly not admirable although Lenhardt is sympathetic. The three girls/young women were self-absorbed and largely indifferent to everyone around them. Cunningham is superior and annoying. Bit player Eve is interesting but doesn't really have the motivation to drive the story forward. In fact, that is the main problem with the book. Only Lenhardt, whose job, after all, is to solve murders, has a clear goal. And he never seems to do much toward achieving that goal with the final solution to the mystery not really coming from his investigation at all.
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