Title: By a Spider’s Thread & No Good Deeds
Author: Laura Lippman
ISBN: 9780062070913 & 9780060570736
Pages: 448 & 400
Release Date: May 29, 2012 & February 27, 2007
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 4 out of 5
In By a Spider’s Thread, private investigator Tess Monaghan is hired by an Orthodox Jewish man named Mark Ruben. Ruben’s wife and children are missing, and Ruben is convinced that his wife fled with his children to protect him from an awful truth about her past. But as Tess digs into the case, she isn’t sure Mark wants to know what she finds.
In No Good Deeds, Tess’s boyfriend, Crow, invites a homeless sixteen year old kid named Lloyd Jupiter to stay with them on a cold Baltimore night. But as the saying goes, “no good deed goes unpunished” – Lloyd pays them back by robbing them. But as Tess begins working on a new case, she realizes that Lloyd may have been a witness to a high profile murder. Her boyfriend Crow resolves to track him down and protect him – no matter how badly he doesn’t want it.
By a Spider’s Thread and No Good Deeds are the eighth and ninth novels in the Tess Monaghan series, respectively, and they show that Lippman has lost absolutely no steam in writing these novels. The series seems to be getting better and better with age. Somehow, Lippman is able to continually develop Tess as a character, making her grow and change with each book, while also writing compelling, complicated mysteries that keep the reader hooked from beginning to end.
From the first page of By a Spider’s Thread, the reader knows there is more going on than meets the eye in the Mark Ruben case. The reader sees Tess’s point of view, of course, but they are also treated to Mark’s wife’s perspective. While this may lessen some of the suspense of the novel, as the reader has some answers that Tess doesn’t from the beginning, it makes the book complicated. Lippman did a great job writing balancing an intricate storyline with very interesting secondary characters, and it made this book a great amount of fun to read.
On the other hand, No Good Deeds, wasn’t quite as entertaining as I’d hoped. While the storyline certainly was gripping, and Lippman wrote a beautifully complex storyline with what seems like ease, it’s the characters that make this book difficult. Specifically, Crow’s unthinking and, frankly, stupid actions over the course of the book not only put Tess in a very difficult spot time and time again, they put her in danger of losing everything. That being said, it’s a very suspenseful read that readers will find it difficult to put down, except to throw the book across the room occasionally whenever Crow appears on the page.
Despite my issues with No Good Deeds, I was very impressed with both of these Tess Monaghan novels, and specifically, that Lippman continues to write such great books, with no sign of degradation in quality. If you haven’t treated yourself to this series yet, don’t hesitate to pick these books up. The first few are wonderful on audio, if you enjoy consuming books in that format, though By a Spider’s Thread is abridged, which is why I switched back to print for the last few books in the series. Overall, these are two great installments to what has become one of my favorite series being written.
Other books by Laura Lippman: