Laura Lippman has again written an exciting and entrancing novel with In a Strange City, one of her Tess Monaghan series of detective novels, published by William Morrow and Co. of HarperCollins Publishers, copyright 2001.
Edgar Allen Poe has been credited with writing some of the first murder mysteries that we enjoy and recommend to our friends. In Philadelphia, Pennsylvania there is a grave site which calls itself Poe’s final resting place. This is something that has been debated by many people throughout the years as there is also a tomb that bears his name at the other side of the graveyard. The life of Poe is in itself an enchanting mystery that has involved many writers and fans of his works. Monsiour Dupin was the investigator in his first detective fiction novel “The Murders in the Rue Morgue”, a story that enthralled his readers and fans as well as set a standard for crime fiction novels for the coming century.
Mystery loves company! This novel is not about Poe as much as it is about the people who honor and pay tribute to his writing and poetry; specifically the Visitor, as he is known to all who have lived in Philidelphia or followed the life of Poe. The Visitor is a man who has come to Poe’s grave site for many years and left red roses and a half bottle of cognac in tribute to this famous fiction author.
On this particular anniversary night a second “Visitor” shows up at Poe’s grave and the two of them exchange words and even hugs. There is obviously a kinship between the two. Private investigator Tess Monaghan is a witness to this scene, having been hired by John Kennedy, a man who sells porcelain and ceramic wares and who believes the Visitor is someone who owes him money. There is no way for Tess to know which one is the original Visitor and before she can decide which one of the two she should follow one of them is shot dead and the other quickly leaves the area. She tries to follow him but is soon lost by his clever knowledge of the area and the interruption of the police arriving. She feels obligated to report what she has witnessed and is confronted by a detective who at one time was her lover. Tess and the detective become involved in not only the murder case, but once again with each other.
Finding the identity of the murdered Visitor and whoever shot him becomes a difficult task they must work on together while they rekindle their relationship. Laura Lippman’s masterful work leaves the reader wanting more, and yet satisfies those of us who enjoy a very good mystery.
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