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In a Strange City (2001)

von Laura Lippman

Reihen: Tess Monaghan (6)

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5491634,145 (3.52)15
When a murder occurs during the annual visit of a cloaked individual to Edgar Allan Poe's grave, PI Tess Monaghan is drawn into unearthing a killer.
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Three stars because I liked the literary and library references—including a cameo by Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden, back when she was head of Baltimore's Pratt Library—but the plot became more tiresome and less plausible as the novel progressed. ( )
  Bruyere_C | Dec 2, 2021 |
The Baltimoriana was good, the plot was okay, the baddies did not convince me. Nice romance angle. Made me want to read some Poe. ( )
  Je9 | Aug 10, 2021 |
In other Tess Monaghan novels Edgar Allen Poe is mentioned, as he lived in Baltimore and his grave is there. In this one we explore Poe a little bit more.

Tess interviews a client who wants her to follow a man who has been visiting Poe's grave every year, on the author's birthday, carrying three roses and a half-bottle of cognac. He has been dubbed the "Poe Toaster". There has been someone doing this job since 1949, Lippman acknowledges in the front, but she skewed details deliberately. I find the term awkward because I think of toast.

Tess thinks the job would be an invasion of the privacy of the Toaster and that the would-be client is up to no good. Perhaps he wants to hurt him. He tells a tale of theft, just want to get back what belongs to him. Further disturbing Tess is the appearance and personality of this visitor. Short and round, he is abrupt and demanding. Tess refuses the job.

But that doesn't mean her brush with Poe is over. After talking to her boyfriend Crow, she decides to watch the gravesite, along with many others. What happens is not what anyone expects, and, again, Tess can't leave it alone.

As has become common in Tess Monaghan mysteries, nothing is direct and simple. Even right after I read this book I didn't hold all the answers in my head. Suffice to say it's worth the reading, as much for the Baltimore lore and the character growth of Tess and Crow as for the development of the plot itself.

**Side note: Lippman (or an editor) uses "gibe" incorrectly here. Should be "jibe". ( )
  slojudy | Sep 8, 2020 |
Yes, this was a mystery, but it was more of a love letter to Baltimore than anything else. Lippman had fun with this one, capitalizing on the Baltimore ties to Edgar Allan Poe, but also highlighting her love for all the quirkiness of the "Tiny Town" she calls home. Unfortunately, I felt like the story suffered a bit because of this and the plot became more than a little convoluted. But I very much enjoyed seeing Baltimore through the author's eyes. ( )
  AliceAnna | Aug 24, 2020 |
Not going to lie, this one so far is my least favorite of the series. It just drags and it's pretty obvious who has to be the bad guy because we are only introduced to one person who could have done it. Also for a book about Edgar Allen Poe this was boring. I have to admit though, I had no freaking clue the Baltimore Ravens were named for Poe's "The Raven" poem. How did I not know that? Interesting premise, but it just doesn't work.

"In a Strange City" has Tess and Crow dealing with the renovation of the house they bought. Tess has some downtime and gets asked about being hired to unmask the famed Visitor (a man who goes to Edgar Allen Poe's grave and toasts him, leaves flowers, and a note every year) that has become a Baltimore tradition. Tess is outraged about anyone trying to unmask this person so she decides to go with Crow to make sure that the Visitor is left alone. Instead two men meet at Poe's grave, and one is shot to death. With the police involved, Tess decides to track down the man who originally tried to hire her. She ends up running into the police and another private investigator on this one.

Tess is usually on her game, but in this one she gets beaten up twice and not really able to link things as well as she usually does (well not until the end). Tess and Crow seem to be solid, but honestly I needed him in a corner out of the way, he doesn't add much to this book. We hear about Tess's parents, but they are not in this one and her Uncle Spike has moved. So we have some of the usual characters missing and it is felt.

The writing is okay, it just felt like Lippman kept trying to loop in Poe references and it doesn't really work. When you see how Poe is involved I maybe rolled my eyes.

The flow was not good though, the first part of the book really does drag. I honestly didn't think things picked up much until we dealt with a second murder that happens. At this point the book moves a bit faster and it feels as if Tess is rushing to just name the murderer already.

The ending was odd, no other way to call it. I just didn't see much of the point in this. It doesn't help that the so called Poe Toaster stopped being a thing in Baltimore in 2010. It restarted again in 2016 though lost it's flair for the unknown when the Maryland Historical Society picked someone to be the new toaster. ( )
  ObsidianBlue | Jul 1, 2020 |
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When a murder occurs during the annual visit of a cloaked individual to Edgar Allan Poe's grave, PI Tess Monaghan is drawn into unearthing a killer.

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Durchschnitt: (3.52)
0.5
1 1
1.5
2 7
2.5 5
3 42
3.5 17
4 49
4.5 4
5 9

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