In the sixth outing of Baltimore reporter turned private detective Tess Monaghan, Tess gets a chance to witness a local tradition shes never seen before: the annual visitation of a cloaked stranger to the gravesite of Edgar Allen Poe on January 19, Poes birthday.

A little fellow Tess calls the Pig Man tries to hire her to stake out the cemetery the night of the visitation, for reasons that sound fishy even to the client-hungry Tess. She turns him down, but ends up going anyway at the urging of her boyfriend, Crow. Instead of seeing one cloaked figure at Poes resting place, they see two. Then a shot rings out, and one man falls to the ground, dead.

Despite her efforts to stay out of the mess, Tess is dragged into the investigation. The victim, Bobby Hilliard, was a waiter at various posh restaurants in the city and may or may not be tied to some unsolved burglaries and even a killing.

While the mystery itself is engrossing, the strength in Lippmans writing is the very human Tess and the city of Baltimore itself. Lippmans passion for her hometown is evident in every descriptionnobody puts the charm in Charm City like Laura Lippman! (Sep., 310 pp., $24.00)

Reviewed by: 
Toby Bromberg