"Baltimore Blues" by Laura Lippman. Avon Books....


"Baltimore Blues" by Laura Lippman. Avon Books. 290 pages. $5.95. paper.

Laura Lippman's first book, in which a 29-year-old ex-reporter named Tess Monaghan turns amateur detective in order to save the neck of a buddy, is two first novels in one: a tough-minded murder mystery and a funny, rueful tale of love and longing. The whodunit part is fast-moving and nicely cynical, but it's the wry subplot (not to mention the dead-on touches of local color) that makes "Baltimore Blues" both entertaining and unexpectedly touching. More, please.

Laura Lippman is a staff writer at The Sun.

Pub Date: 1/12/97

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