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A-Another Thing to FallIn the 10th in her series featuring Tess Monaghan (after No Good Deeds [2006]), Laura Lippman again proves that she knows Baltimore inside out. Yet the novel does not quite match the power of What the Dead Know ( 4.5 of 5 Stars Selection July/Aug 2007), Lippman’s recent stand-alone thriller.

The Story: Tess Monaghan, a former newspaper reporter turned PI, finds herself in an unusual situation when her scull collides into the set of a TV miniseries, Mann of Steel, being shot in her Baltimore neighborhood. She allows herself to be hired as a bodyguard for Selene Waites, a spoiled young actress, in order to help out her boyfriend and find some work on the show for a former delinquent. Tess soon learns some disturbing things: acts of vandalism have interrupted filming, a stalker who took photos of Selene has killed himself, and Selene is nowhere near as naïve as she seems. Then, a production assistant is murdered, and everyone on the set becomes a suspect.
William Morrow. 336 pages. $24.95. ISBN: 0061128872

People Weekly 4 of 5 Stars
"As always, Lippman serves up snappy repartee and a plot that keeps the pages turning. … Another Thing doesn’t have the complexity or literary heft of What the Dead Know, but it’s more psychologically sophisticated than the average mystery—and as much fun as indulging in a late-night marathon of your favorite show." Natalie Danford

South FL Sun-Sentinel 4 of 5 Stars
"A thirst for power, skewed realities and a person’s need to receive credit for their deeds permeate Another Thing to Fall. … Well-timed humor, trivia about movies that will appeal to the casual filmgoer as well as cinema buffs and a look at Baltimore’s past and present meld seamlessly into the sturdy plot." Oline H. Cogdill

Baltimore Sun 3.5 of 5 Stars
"Despite some shortcomings, Lippman is incapable of writing an un-compelling mystery, and Another Thing to Fall, while not as astute or haunting as the award-winning Every Secret Thing or What the Dead Know, is still far above the usual mystery fare. The plot is good, the characters well-designed, if not fully fleshed out, the entree into Hollywood intriguing and Baltimore front-and-center, beautiful, bleak and bellicose in equal measure." Victoria A. Brownworth

Los Angeles Times 3.5 of 5 Stars
"As is often the case in mysteries with a big cast of characters, the detection of the crime is not as interesting as the interaction among the players. Lippman gives us Hollywood types who are also identifiable as people—no small feat—and captures both the life-in-a-bubble feel of a location set and the controlled hysteria that so often is the creative process." Mary McNamara

Providence Journal 2.5 of 5 Stars
"Like her sleuth and alter ego, Lippman is a former journalist, and her prose reflects that straightforward narrative style. … Yet the plot … the crimes, the characters did not engage me." Mandy Twaddell

Critical Summary

Critics agree that for Lippman’s Tess Monaghan series, this 10th installment is quite good, if relatively lighter fare than her recent stand-alone work. Lippman, a former reporter who is married to David Simon, the coproducer of the HBO series The Wire, knows Baltimore’s unique urban traits and culture, and it shows in her detailed settings, convincing dialogue, and generally nuanced characters. If not all possess as much depth as Tess, however, the Hollywood actors add compelling flair. One reviewer complained that the novel’s premise was more interesting than its execution, and the Providence Journal found weak characters and plots. Yet even that critic, entranced by Lippman’s psychological acuity, kept turning the pages.