Monday, June 6, 2011

Review - The Girl in the Green Raincoat by Laura Lippman

The Girl in the Green Raincoat: A Tess Monaghan NovelThe Girl in the Green Raincoat: A Tess Monaghan Novel

Even a brief glance at the back of the book will tell you that this novella (William Morrow, 158p, Isbn-006193836X) starts out as a modern-day retelling of the classic Hitchcock film, "Rear Window". Instead of a broken-footed James Stewart peeking into the varied lives of neighbors from the vantage point of his window, here we have a highly pregnant Baltimore PI Tess Monaghan whose doctor-ordered bed rest leads her to watch with interest the goings-on in a nearby park where her eye is caught first by a dog and then its owner, a woman dressed in a green raincoat. A few days later, the bored detective's curiosity is further piqued when she spots the dog running through the park, quite owner-less.

With the help of her friend and sometimes assistant, Whitney (a role played glamorously by Grace Kelly in the movie) and others, Tess launches an avid bedside investigation into the disappearance of the dog's owner whom, apparently, no one else has missed. That leads her to a husband who's not interested in getting the dog back and moreover, who refuses to verify his wife's whereabouts. And if that were not enough, he becomes the prime suspect when Tess begins to uncover dead wives in his past. Things take a further quirky turn when, during the course of her Tess-propelled investigation, Whitney shows signs of falling for the guilty-looking husband.

Before reading this novella, I had no idea about the existence of Tess Monaghan in the pages of a book. I'm now going to make sure I read all the books in the series featuring this intrepid detective and learn more about the (hopefully ongoing antics of the) diverting characters featured in this book.

Click "Read more" to reveal some secrets

Originally serialized in the New York Times, and now published in book form, this story reads like a much longer one because of the variety of smaller, interesting stories layered within the main story. This includes Tess' own worry about her boyfriend's curious lack of interest in proposing to her again in face of their growing family, the surprising revelation of her parents' romance, Whitney's career stagnation, Lloyd's racial romantic dilemma etc. As the author explains towards at the end of the book, in almost every chapter someone tells Tess a story.

The beauty of it is that I can see shades of real people I know among the characters in this book. Lippman does this very skillfully and as a reader I'm very appreciative of it. The author also deftly throws out red herrings to muddy up the mystery and I must admit, she had me flummoxed with the surprising ending and that's SO usually not the case.

I hated the baby's name, but that apart I loved everything else about this great story that never stops intriguing.

Note - This book was received for review/feature consideration.
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  1. Sounds like a great recommendation for my girlfriend, my thanks!

  2. Good to know, hope she likes it! Thanks for visiting and keep on coming back!