Sunday, November 23, 2008

In Big Trouble - Laura Lippman

Before I start my review of this audiobook, I wanted to apologize for my small silence there. I have been battling with a rather nasty lower back problem that seemed to come out of nowhere. It's been difficult the last few days to sit at my computer chair. I'm feeling a tad bit better today (and VERY antsy at not having blogged) and am hoping that I can get a couple reviews finished.

The first audio book I finished this week is Laura Lippman's In Big Trouble. This is the fourth installment in the Tess Monaghan series, and it finds Tess traveling to Texas. Tess receives a picture in the mail of her ex-boyfriend Crow. Over the picture it reads "In Big Trouble." At first Tess discards the picture and doesn't think much of it. Crow is a big boy, and he can take care of himself. But when she contacts his parents and learns he has cut himself off from them and they haven't heard from him in several weeks, she begins to grow suspicious. And when his parents offer to hire her to find him, she sets off with Esskay for the Alamo - hmmm, a girl and her dog on an adventure in a strange land. Sound like anything you know?

With each Tess Monaghan book I add to my "read" list, I like Tess more and more. She's spunky, quirky and she definitely does NOT have it altogether! A characteristic I find especially annoying is a young person who always knows the right thing to do or say and WHEN to do or say it. How many young people do YOU know like that? It takes time, experience and maturity to master that, and yet a lot of people NEVER master it. Tess's mistakes and poor judgement make her more real to me.

Then on the flip side, Tess isn't a "silly" female character. Does she do some silly things at times? Yes, but not so that her whole personality is "silly." There are a few female detectives I've read (written by female authors) whose complete personalities are silly. That factor usually deters me from wanting to read any more of the series. I believe Tess would be irritated by "silly" females, actually. And that characteristic is appealing to me.

The plot of In Big Trouble brings Crow back into the fold and gives some background to his character. I didn't find this plot to be predictable at all. At one point I remember thinking "oh Laura, PLEASE don't tell me you're going to have this happen!" And almost as if she was listening to me think that, a character asks if that scenario is true - it's not. Whew! Saved!

Probably the element I liked the most in In Big Trouble is the theme of context. I think that theme is underlying in a lot of crime fiction, a lot of mystery, but Lippman really brings it to the forefront in this novel. As the reader I was constantly questioning events and evidence because of that theme. Still didn't help me unfold the mystery early, but it DID have me thinking the whole time.

As I mentioned at the beginning, I listened to this on audio book from BBC Audiobooks America. The reader is Deborah Hazlett. She also read the previous Tess Monaghan books that I've listened to, so her voice will be forever ingrained in my mind as Tess's voice. I enjoy her readings, but there was an element in this one that bothered me a bit. I know very little about dialects. I can usually tell you a part of the world that the dialect comes from, but beyond that I can't pinpoint regions or groups that specific sounds are attributed to. And I'm telling you all this because I will rarely be the one to criticize dialects. However, in this book there were several Mexican characters. And I have to say that Hazlett's Mexican dialect didn't sound like any Hispanic person I've ever heard. That factor ended up being a little distracting to me, but not enough so that I wouldn't recommend the sound recording.

Overall, a great Tess Monaghan adventure and a great audiobook to keep me entertained while performing that ever-annoying task of driving! ;)

Happy Reading!


Corey Wilde November 23, 2008 at 8:56 PM  

I have one of Lippman's books in the TBR stack, but I confess it's been there awhile. Trouble is, other books keep getting put ahead of TBR, like the James Fredericks book that just arrived. Whose fault is that, I wonder?

Jen November 24, 2008 at 7:01 PM  

Oh shucks; I don't know...who's fault could that be??? ;)

beauvallet November 24, 2008 at 9:45 PM  

I know, I know! [waves hand madly]

le0pard13 November 29, 2008 at 8:23 PM  

Okay, you've convinced me. I'm adding her to the stack. What's the first book in this series (since I have to start there)?

Jen November 29, 2008 at 11:22 PM  

Baltimore Blues is the first Tess Monaghan novel, Michael. Let me know how you like it.

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