Title: Charm City: A Tess Monaghan Novel
Author: Laura Lippman
Release Date: October 1, 1997
Genre: Mystery, Audiobook
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 3.5 out of 5
In the second book in the Tess Monaghan series, Tess is working as a private investigator in Baltimore. When her Uncle Spike is badly beaten and left for dead, Tess is determined to get to the bottom of the mystery. She also finds work at the Baltimore newspaper, the Beacon-Light, trying to get to the bottom of a rogue story.
I enjoyed the first book in the Tess Monaghan series, Baltimore Blues, so I was eager to give Charm City a try. Unfortunately, it didn’t quite live up to the promise of the first.
Beth Fish Reads described Charm City as a sophomore slump, and I’m inclined to agree. That’s not to say it was all bad – Tess is clearly starting to grow up and take control of her life. She’s dependable and resourceful, and is clearly good at her job She’s learning how to get things done. I loved that she was really getting over the hump we found her at in the beginning of Baltimore Blues.
However, the two mysteries didn’t really work for me. I found the Beacon-Light story to be very interesting and it really kept me reading the book. I thought it was complex and well-done, though it took some time to fully develop. The Uncle Spike storyline took away from the rest of the book. I thought it was confusing, and was puzzled by whether it would ultimately tie into the other case she was working on. I didn’t think this two-case format for one book worked very well.
This was the first Tess Monaghan novel I listened to in audio, and I think the format worked very well for this book. It was unabridged and ran about 9 and a half hours. The narrator was Deborah Hazlett, but I can’t really say I cared for her. Her voice was jarring to me, and didn’t sound like my vision of Tess at all. Additionally, her voices for all the men sounded the same, and were all very silly. It was difficult to take seriously when she was trying to perform men’s dialogue! Still, since this series is so well suited to audio, I will probably continue this series in that format.