Private: Tess Monaghan, P.I.

By now you all probably know that I’m a sucker for a good, hardboiled detective novel–the kind that sustains intrigue but also reveals something dark and deep and true about its characters and their predicaments. Raymond Chandler’s The Big Sleep and Jonathan Lethem’s Motherless Brooklyn are, to my mind, among the best examples of this sort of writing.

A friend of mine is at work on a book that I see as a sort of blend of Chandler and James Lasdun. Just last Sunday, she and I sat over drinks, wondering about the scarcity of P.I. novels written by women.

By coincidence, this morning I discovered that a writer named Laura Lippman said some nice things about my site and linked to it over the weekend.

I was unfamiliar with Ms. Lippman’s work, but I’ve done some poking around, and here’s what the Village Voice Literary Supplement said about her novels back in 1999:

Baltimore has had a rogues’ gallery of pop troubadours, none more moodily compelling than the flatfoots of TV’s Homicide. Since the show’s demise, I figured no fictional Baltimorean would ever again steal my heart the way Meldrick Lewis did, in his little crushed fedora. I was wrong. There’s a hard-boiled contender stepping out of the shadows, a dame with the old-fashioned hubris of Philip Marlowe and a thoroughly modern, unruly mind.

… She is Charm City personified, sharing a kinship with the toughs of Homicide, with the tender heroes of middle-period John Waters ….

The books are all available in paperback, and although Lippman more than deserves a hardcover breakout, there’s a pulpy little thrill in finding the best mystery writing around within the gaudy, palm-sized pages of a mass-market release….

Don’t know about you, but I’m ready to give Lippman a try.