Much like her most famous character, Tess Monaghan, Laura Lippman found early success as a reporter. Born in Atlanta, Georgia on January 31, 1959, Laura Lippman was raised in Baltimore, Maryland. In Baltimore, Lippman began her career as a reporter working for The Baltimore Sun and the San Antonio Light, a paper that has since closed. Lippman has become entrenched in the Baltimore arts scene. Her husband, David Simon, is the creator and Executive Producer of the acclaimed HBO series The Wire, which follows the reporters, police, and criminals of the city of Baltimore. Lippman guest starred in a cameo role working for the Baltimore Sun in an early episode on the series.
Laura Lippman attended Baltimore schools through the ninth grade. She then attended Wilde Lake High School in Colombia, Maryland. Lippman matriculated into Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism in Chicago, Illinois. Upon graduating from Northwestern, Lippman returned to her home in Baltimore, where she began what would be a twenty-year career in journalism, twelve of which would be served with the newspaper The Baltimore Sun.
Lippman fully retired from journalism in 2001 in order to fully concentrate on her career as a novelist. Before leaving, Lippman had already published seven novels in the Tess Monaghan series. In addition to her work on this series, totaling 11 books to date, Lippman has also published eight standalone novels, as well as numerous short stories. For her work in fiction, Lippman was granted the Edgar ®, The Agatha, The Anthony, The Nero Wolfe, Gumshoe, The Shamus, and Barry awards. She has also been nominated for the Hammett and Macavity prizes, and notably was the first recipient ever of the Mayor’s Prize, awarded for Literary Excellence. In addition, Lippman was recognized as Author of the Year by the Maryland Library Association. She was the first genre writer to be granted this award. Laura Lippman’s writing has been favorably reviewed by multiple institutions. The Washington Post says Lippman is “one of the best novelists around, period.” Booklist says “Lippman’s taut, mesmerizing, and exceptionally smart drama of predator and prey is at once unusually sensitive and utterly compelling.”
In 2010, renowned actress Frances McDormand purchased the rights to Lippman’s standalone novel Every Secret Thing. The film is scheduled for release in the first half of 2015, after receiving extremely high praise after it’s April showing at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2014. The film, produced by McDormand and directed by Amy Berg, stars Diane Lane, Elizabeth Banks, and Dakota Fanning. The book follows an 18-year-old named Alice Manning, who becomes a suspect in the disappearance of a child.
Most of Lippman’s writing is centered in and around Baltimore. Baltimore is a city with a long history of art and crime, made a significant impact on Lippman’s many varied characters and stories, none more than Tess Monaghan. Tess Monaghan is a reporter in Baltimore who, at the onset of the series, has ‘accidentally’ turned Private Investigator. Beginning in the novel Baltimore Blues, P.I. Tess Monaghan explores some of the more sinister cases in Baltimore, solving them with unmatched tenacity.
Baltimore has long been a troubled city, with murders occurring almost every day. In the inaugural novel Baltimore Blues, Attorney Michael Abramowitz is killed. Attorney Abramowitz death is different than the typical killings because of his high-profile lifestyle. Known to enjoy illegal trysts in the middle of the day, Attorney Abramowitz winds up on the front page of every local newspaper. Tess Monaghan is a recently unemployed reporter who worked for the The Star, a local paper which failed and shut down. Tess’s work as a reporter in Baltimore led her to know the city better than most, including some of the most notorious members of the city. One of her old rowing buddies, Darryl “Rock” Paxton, the cuckolded fiancé, is the Baltimore Police’s number one suspect, and so he looks to his friend Tess Monaghan to help clear his name. In need of a job, Tess agrees. What should have been a straightforward case leads to secrets and life-threatening situations, which bring Tess closer to death than she ever knew possible.
Later in the series comes the novel In Big Trouble, which finds Tess settling in to her new lifestyle as a Private Investigator. The calm quickly dissipates upon receiving an envelope postmarked Boerne, Texas. The contents include a photo of her former boyfriend Crow, a musician, and a small newspaper scrap reading the headline “in big trouble.” Monaghan leaves Baltimore behind to visit Crow’s parents in Charlottesville, Texas, but what was meant to be a quick check-in turns into a road trip fraught with danger, secrets, and lies. Having left the city she knows so well, Tess Monaghan finds herself feeling lost and insecure in the vast desert landscape where the days are long and hot, the nights stark and cold. Tess’s ex-boyfriend Crow seems to have disappeared with a relatively unknown blonde singer, which sets Tess on the trail to finding where, and why, they vanished. As she searches, she finds herself entrenched in the multitude of family secrets, and the quick-rising body count as her search continues.
In addition to the Tess Monaghan series, Lippman has also written a large variety of short stories. Of note is one story in particular, Easy as ABC, which is collected in the anthology Baltimore Noir. Each story is set in a different neighborhood in Baltimore. Lippman’s story takes place in Locust Point, the area that houses the famed Fort McHenry. Lippman also pens the foreword to this collection, in which she discusses why Baltimore is the perfect setting for noir-style stories. “Baltimore has an odd geographic distinction. It is one of only two major U.S. cities that lies in no county… Landlocked on every side but one…it cannot expand or annex. Squeezed this way, it is a perfect setting for noir, which depends on an almost Darwinian desperation among its players.” Noir fiction is characterized by an often-victimized protagonist plunged deep into a corrupt and lawless world. Thus, Laura Lippman’s hometown of Baltimore makes the most compelling setting for these stories, and indeed, the large body of her collected works.
Books in order of publication:
Tess Monaghan Books
|In Big Trouble||(1999)|
|The Sugar House||(2000)|
|In a Strange City||(2001)|
|The Last Place||(2002)|
|By a Spider’s Thread||(2004)|
|No Good Deeds||(2006)|
|Another Thing to Fall||(2008)|
|The Girl in the Green Raincoat||(2011)|
Tess Monaghan Collections
|The Tess Chronicles||(2018)|
|Every Secret Thing||(2003)|
|To the Power of Three||(2005)|
|What the Dead Know||(2007)|
|I’d Know You Anywhere||(2010)|
|The Most Dangerous Thing||(2011)|
|And When She Was Good||(2012)|
|After I’m Gone||(2014)|
|Lady in the Lake||(2019)|
|Arm and the Woman||(2009)|
|The Babysitter’s Code||(2009)|
|The Crack Cocaine Diet||(2009)|
|Dear Penthouse Forum (A First Draft)||(2009)|
|Easy as A-B-C||(2009)|
|A Good Fuck Spoiled||(2009)|
|One True Love||(2009)|
|Scratch a Woman||(2009)|
|The Shoeshine Man’s Regrets||(2009)|
|What He Needed||(2009)|
|The Book Thing||(2013)|
Short Story Collections
|Hardly Knew Her||(2008)|
|By Hook or By Crook: And 27 More of the Best Crime and Mystery Stories of the Year||(2010)|
|Hints of Heloise||(2012)|
Publication Order of Anthologies