Mystery Authors You May Have Missed
Laura Lippman


Laura Lippman grew up in Baltimore, the daughter of a newspaper editorial writer and a city school librarian. She attended Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism and worked as a reporter for twenty years, twelve of them for The (Baltimore) Sun. As a reporter, she interviewed presidents, writers (including many of her own favorites), and criminals. In 1996, Baltimore magazine named her The Sun’s best writer. During this time, she also began writing fiction, and published seven Tess Monaghan novels before leaving journalism in 2001. She has been nominated for and/or won numerous prizes for her fiction. The Maryland Library Association named her Maryland Author of the Year, the first genre writer to receive this distinction. She returned to Baltimore, where her sister is a bookseller, in 1989 and has lived there since.

What she writes: Lippman is the author of ten Tess Monaghan private eye novels, as well as three standalone novels, all but one set in Baltimore. Though she comes from a family of southerners, Lippman loves and knows Baltimore well, and uses it to create a strong sense of place. Character Tess Monaghan is an emblematic “Bawlmer,” a mixture of Irish Catholic and Jew, giving her a multi-faceted viewpoint. She is principled and determined, a former reporter turned private investigator. She eschews make-up, wears comfortable clothes, and works out by rowing on the river. She enjoys figuring people out, and the suspenseful revelation of character is one of the hallmarks of Lippman’s writing. Lippman says: “I love detective novels and I've read them all my life... I thought I was going to be a tough, gritty dame. But when I sat down to write I realised that I'm not that type: I'm really interested in people and their relationships."

Lippman’s books are suspenseful but not graphically violent. Lippman says she would not rule out any subject, but to be a socially responsible writer she believes one should not sensationalize violence. Each of her books has been inspired by a real event. Lippman also gives herself a specific challenge with each book. She hopes someday to write about something in a way that will change how people think about that subject, as in the way Charles Dickens’s Oliver Twist caused public outcry that affected changes in child labor laws. She says, “I want to keep pushing myself to imagine the unimaginable.”

Listen to an audio interview with Laura Lippman and Diane Rehm on By a Spider's Thread for WAMU Radio.

List of Works 

Tess Monaghan Series
  Baltimore Blues (1997) -- eAudiobook -- eBook
  Charm City (1997) -- CD -- eAudiobook -- eBook
  Butcher's Hill (1998) -- CD -- eBook
  In Big Trouble (1999) -- CD -- eBook
  The Sugar House (2000) -- eBook -- large type
  In a Strange City (2001) -- eBook
  The Last Place (2002) -- eBook
  By a Spider's Thread (2004) -- CD -- eBook -- large type
  No Good Deeds (2006) -- CD -- eBook -- large type
  Another Thing to Fall (2008) -- CD
Other Works
  Every Secret Thing (2003) -- eBook
  To the Power of Three (2005) -- CD -- eBook
  What the Dead Know (2007) -- eAudiobook -- eBook -- large type
Edgar and Shamus awards, both for best paperback original novel, 1997, for Charm City
Agatha, Macavity, and Anthony awards, all 1998, for Butcher's Hill
Nero Wolfe Award, 2000, for The Sugar House
Anthony and Barry awards, both 2003, for Every Secret Thing
Romantic Times Award for best PI novel, 2004, for By a Spider's Thread
Gumshoe Award for best novel, 2005, for To the Power of Three
Quill Award, mystery/suspense category, 2007, for What the Dead Know
New York Times notable book of the year distinction for The Last Place
Baltimore (MD) Mayor's Award for Literary Excellence
What the critics say
"For mystery fans who have read every book by Sue Grafton, Sara Paretsky, and Patricia Cornwell and who are longing for something new, Lippman's first hardcover (The Sugar House) will be a refreshing surprise." -
Library Journal
"Edgar-winning Tess's hardcover debut is a rare find: a puzzle so finely calibrated that each new disclosure brings revelation and deepening mystery at the same time, as well as a sense of place so unerring it makes Baltimore everyone's hometown." - Kirkus Reviews (July 15, 2000)
"Lippman deftly juggles a sense of foreboding with quotidian details as she spins an engrossing tale, and she captures the essence of other Maryland venues as acutely as she does that of Baltimore. Tess is a standout among female protagonists in mysteries, and this is absolutely first-rate" - Library Journal (September 15, 2002)
Regarding Every Secret Thing: "With this book, much darker than any in her past series, Lippman shows she is an author willing to take risks in both writing and storytelling. Her deft handling of this disturbing material is sure to increase the breadth of her readership" - Publishers Weekly (July 7, 2003)


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