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Hush Hush

by Laura Lippman

Series: Tess Monaghan (12)

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3993546,387 (3.72)12
On a searing August day, Melisandre Harris Dawes committed the unthinkable: she left her two-month-old daughter locked in a car while she sat nearby on the shores of the Patapsco River. Melisandre was found not guilty by reason of criminal insanity, although there was much skepticism about her mental state. Freed, she left the country, her husband and her two surviving children, determined to start over. But now Melisandre has returned Baltimore to meet with her estranged teenage daughters and wants to film the reunion for a documentary. The problem is, she relinquished custody and her ex, now remarried, isn't sure he approves. Now that's she's a mother herself--short on time, patience--Tess Monaghan wants nothing to do with a woman crazy enough to have killed her own child. But her mentor and close friend Tyner Gray, Melisandre's lawyer, has asked Tess and her new partner, retired Baltimore P.D. homicide detective Sandy Sanchez, to assess Melisandre's security needs. As a former reporter and private investigator, Tess tries to understand why other people break the rules and the law. Yet the imperious Melisandre is something far different from anyone she's encountered. A decade ago, a judge ruled that Melisandre was beyond rational thought. But was she? Tess tries to ignore the discomfort she feels around the confident, manipulative Melisandre. But that gets tricky after Melisandre becomes a prime suspect in a murder. Yet as her suspicions deepen, Tess realizes that just as she's been scrutinizing Melisandre, a judgmental stalker has been watching her every move as well.… (more)

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Showing 1-5 of 35 (next | show all)
Quite a different Tess Monaghan mystery.

Melisandre Harris leaves her two-month-old daughter, for several hours, in her car while relaxing nearby. The child dies. She is found to be mentally unfit and released. Many believe that she left the child deliberately. Melisandre leaves the country and the rest of her family for several years.

She returns to the country, saying she wants to rebuild her relationship with her now-teen daughters and to film the reunion. Tess is engaged, along with her new partner, to determine appropriate security means for Harris. Tess is not thrilled with the job and does not warm to Harris.

Meanwhile, Tess is receiving odd notes and other suggestions of a stalker. Are these events connected?

This novel takes us into the very different world of Tess the mother as well as of Melisandre the baby killer. There is a lot to think about.
( )
  slojudy | Sep 8, 2020 |
A woman who was accused and acquitted of murdering her infant daughter returns to the U.S. after a decade abroad to make amends with her remaining children but soon thinks she is being stalked after receiving ominous notes with details about her life. Private investigator Tess Monaghan is put on the case and soon finds things are not all as they seem...

I picked up this book ages ago because I had read another book by Laura Lippman that I enjoyed; I didn't realize at the time that this is part of a series and is in fact the last book in a series. Usually I like to read series in order but I decided to go with this anyway. It was actually fine as it seemed like Lippman described anything necessary to know and I never felt like I was missing something from not having read the previous 11 novels.

One of the things I really liked about the previous Lippman novel I read and this one is how she focuses so much on the psychology and the aftermath of crime, not the gory details. It was compelling here to read from so many perspectives -- the teen-aged children, their new stepmother, Tess, her assistant, etc. etc. It felt like a great deal of the book was about people responding and reacting to incidents and others' feelings rather than a hard-boiled noir detective story focusing on 'just the facts' and tracking down leads nonstop. In addition, I very much appreciated how Lippman took the trappings of the case to delve into musings about the so-called 'mommy wars' and how women are guilted no matter what they do (i.e., have a career with no children, have a career with children, or stay at home with their children are somehow all options that are slighted). However, events definitely happened and situations escalated, so it was by no means a dull read from a plot point of view either.

That all being said, the resolution of the mystery felt kind of flat. With all the setup, I was expecting more of a big reveal instead of it essentially being the person you pretty much assumed from the beginning (at least for the major part of it ... there were still some other surprises along the way). The conclusion with its resolution of Tess's personal life also felt pretty tacked on, but I guess the author was done with writing this series and just wanted to give it a happy ending, which I suppose is good for long-time readers of the series wanting some finality.

The audiobook narrator was excellent and did a good job of having distinct voices for all the characters. ( )
  sweetiegherkin | Aug 1, 2020 |
Sigh. What a great book this was. I was initially skeptical for how Lippman was doing this (interview style format sprinkled with third person POVs) but it really works. I also liked the conversation around motherhood. A mother killing their child is seen as being a horrific thing with a lot of people not even wanting to get to the point they can understand how that happens. I thought that everything really worked in this one. The characters, the writing, the flow, and even the slowly dawning reality of what type of mother Melisandre Harris Dawes was before and is now.

In "Hush Hush" Tess takes on a client that will challenge her ideas on motherhood and marriage. She's asked by her uncle (still funny)Tyner Gray to take on Melisandre as a client. Melisandre more than a decade earlier left her two month old daughter in her car in the summer. The baby died, and though the prosecution was eager to convict her, she was judged temporary insane. Giving up custody of her other two daughters, she has lived overseas. Now with her mother's death, she's returned to Baltimore to try to forge a relationship with her two surviving daughters, Alanna and Ruby. She plans on using a documentary that is being made about her as a way back into her daughters lives. But now there are questions resurfacing about what really happened ten years ago. With Tess dealing with increasingly threatening notes about how she is as a mother, her emotions are raw with dealing with Melisandre. Another murder though lives more questions with Tess trying to figure out who has killed before and who has killed now.

As Lippman delves, you have her focusing mostly on mothers who get rid of their children for another man, another future, or you have those who in the moment, were truly insane and did not have control over their own actions (like Andrea Yates). Since Tess is now a mother of a toddler and still living with Crow, she has a lot of questions about how she is as a mother, is she doing enough, is she not there for her daughter, and the case has her thinking on what makes a marriage too. There is mention of Medea in the book and in the author's afterword. I am definitely one of those mythology readers who thought Jason was terrible and Medea got a raw deal.

I loved we get more character POVs in this one, we have Tess's partner Sandy, her aunt, her client, Melisandre (or Missy), Melisandre's two daughters, the documentary filmmaker, Harmony, and even other characters via interview. Each person gives you a perspective not only on Melisandre, but on what is going in motion in the here and now. I liked the questions being asked about motherhood, why do women try to have it all. Part of you is going to despise Melisandre, but also like how she is clearly able to see the traps with motherhood and within her own marriage. And then you are going to despise her all over again.

What I thought was interesting about this one is that we get a special insight into Tyner and his relationship with Tess's aunt Kitty. And we even get insight into Kitty via another character as well. I think this book just pushes at preconceived notions about motherhood or marriage. We have Tyner saying that he never wanted to marry, but he met Kitty and that was it. When you see how he is linked to Melisandre though, you start to have a lot of questions. I thought it was great though. The whole book and characters were messy.

I thought the writing was great though the interview style format was a bit hard to get into at first. It works though and after I got to the ending, I went back to some parts of it. The flow worked really well too.

The ending was a shocker though. I loved the reveal about things before and now. I mean Lippman doesn't spell out things in the before for you, but you get enough to realize what really happened ten years ago (or at least I did).

The ending also leaves things slightly changed between Tess and Crow and their future.

I hope one day Lippman revisits this character/series. I love Tess and she's been a great character to follow in 2019. ( )
1 vote ObsidianBlue | Jul 1, 2020 |
I haven't read any books by Laura Lippman before and I have jumped straight in with book 12 in the series. Tess Monaghan is private detective who is involved in the case of Melisandre Dawes.

I normally like to read books in order to get to know the characters. Story wise it didn't really matter with this book, it can quite easily be read as a stand alone.

I wasn't sure if I was going to finish the book. I really could not get into it at first. As the book was easy to read I gave it another go and managed to finish it. I liked the book in places especially the interviews. However at times I found the book a drag at times and felt I was losing interest. The plot was ok but did really plod on at times.

I don't think there was enough enjoyment in this book for me to go back to book 1 and start a new series. I may read another by this author in the future and give the books another go. ( )
  tina1969 | May 31, 2020 |
I really enjoyed this series. I can't wait to Lippman's stand alones. ( )
  RobertaLea | Mar 29, 2020 |
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On a searing August day, Melisandre Harris Dawes committed the unthinkable: she left her two-month-old daughter locked in a car while she sat nearby on the shores of the Patapsco River. Melisandre was found not guilty by reason of criminal insanity, although there was much skepticism about her mental state. Freed, she left the country, her husband and her two surviving children, determined to start over. But now Melisandre has returned Baltimore to meet with her estranged teenage daughters and wants to film the reunion for a documentary. The problem is, she relinquished custody and her ex, now remarried, isn't sure he approves. Now that's she's a mother herself--short on time, patience--Tess Monaghan wants nothing to do with a woman crazy enough to have killed her own child. But her mentor and close friend Tyner Gray, Melisandre's lawyer, has asked Tess and her new partner, retired Baltimore P.D. homicide detective Sandy Sanchez, to assess Melisandre's security needs. As a former reporter and private investigator, Tess tries to understand why other people break the rules and the law. Yet the imperious Melisandre is something far different from anyone she's encountered. A decade ago, a judge ruled that Melisandre was beyond rational thought. But was she? Tess tries to ignore the discomfort she feels around the confident, manipulative Melisandre. But that gets tricky after Melisandre becomes a prime suspect in a murder. Yet as her suspicions deepen, Tess realizes that just as she's been scrutinizing Melisandre, a judgmental stalker has been watching her every move as well.

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