Thursday, June 23, 2011

Alice's Review: The Girl in the Green Raincoat

The Girl in the Green Raincoat: A Tess Monaghan NovelSummary: Originally serialized in the New York Times Magazine, Lippman's Tess Monaghan novella turns the intrepid Baltimore PI's at-risk late-pregnancy bed rest into a compellingly edgy riff on Hitchcock's Rear Window. Lovingly tucked up on her winterized sun porch, Tess marshals her forces--doting artist boyfriend Crow, best friend Whitney Talbot, middle-aged assistant gumshoe Mrs. Blossom, and researcher Dorie Starnes--to probe the disappearance of a chic blonde green-raincoated dog walker she'd been watching from her comfy prison. Tess also takes in the missing woman's abandoned green-slickered Italian greyhound from hell, a miniature canine terrorist whose anti-housebreaking vendetta offers comic relief from Tess's threatened pre-eclampsia, her obsessive unraveling of a complex scam, and her last-trimester spats with Crow about their future. Though postpartum Tess turns alternately weepy and shrill, that condition won't last, and this entertaining romp leaves plenty of hints of detective-mother exploits to come.

Review: I'm pretty sure I found a new literary friend. She has moxie, a good sense a humor, animals love her, and trouble finds her wherever she goes, even when she is bedridden with a high risk pregnancy. Her name is Tess Monaghan and she is one of Baltimore's finest private detectives.

I found Tess engaging. I was definitely interested in getting to know her, to find out what path she took that lead her to become a private investigator. I enjoyed the zany cast of characters with my favorite being Mrs. Blossom, the unassuming, knitting master spy. I lost count of how many times I burst out laughing during this novella. Ms. Lippman has a great writing style, direct without being pedestrian.

There were two facets I found troubling. The first was that although I had a Why the face? moment, the ending seemed rushed. I really dislike when that happens. The second was, coming into an already established story, she left me feeling a bit like an outsider looking in on family and friends that held a tight bond. However she did succeed in peaking my interest. And now that my appetite is whet, I really have no choice but to start at the beginning and find out more about my new friend Tess and her family and kooky friends.

Final Take: 4/5

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