Join the world of New York Times bestselling author Laura Lippman's Tess Monaghan in the Shamus and Anthony Award-winning fourth book in the acclaimed seriesIn Big TroubleTess Monaghan has learned the hard way how to survive on the streets of Baltimore-first as a fearless investigative reporter and lately as a PI. But a new case is about to take her way out of her element.What begins with a tantalizing shard of a newspaper headline-"In Big Trouble"-above a photograph of an old boyfriend will end far away in another world, where people dress and talk differently . . . and rich people's games can have lethal consequences. Here where the sun is merciless-and curiosity can kill faster than a rattler's bite-Tess is going to have to confront her past and, hopefully, live to tell about it. For the answers she seeks about a man she thought she knew may be somehow linked to a murderer who two-steps to a very deadly drummer.
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September 01, 1999
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Excerpt from In Big Trouble by Laura Lippman
Tess Monaghan hated surveillance work, something of a problem for someone who made her living as a private investigator. Do what you love and you'll love what you do, they told her. Well, she loved everything else about her job. Loved being her own boss, loved being her only employee. She was even starting to love her gun, which she knew was kind of creepy. Unfortunately, surveillance work was a private investigator's bread-and-butter, and she loathed every minute of it, especially in the cause of romantic disputes. Besides, it was just so passive. All her life, she had hated waiting for things to happen. She yearned to be an instigator. Yet here she was again, slouched down in the front seat of her car, camera ready to document someone else's bad behavior.
She stared at the faded plaster king who welcomed guests to the Enchanted Castle Motor Court on Route 40. Time had not been kind to him-his purple coat had whitish spots that made it appear as if it were motheaten, his face was pitted, and one eye had faded away, so his once-genial smile was now more of a leer. Still, he made her feel nostalgic, for Maryland's past and for her own. There was a time, almost in her memory', when Route 40 was the major east-west highway across the state of Maryland and these kinds of campy stucco cottages had beckoned to travelers with neon promises of air-cooled rooms and fresh pies in the diner.
As for Tess, she had lost her own virginity in this particular motor court, at the allegedly sweet age of sixteen. The wine had been sweet at least. Mogen David, hijacked from her Gramma Weinstein's Seder almost two months earlier, because teenage Tess had been methodical about her bad behavior. The younger version was always plotting, looking ahead to the night when she could just get it over withy first drunk, first dope, first sex-mark another milestone on her path to adulthood. Why had she been in such a hurry? She couldn't even remember now. Anyway, it hadn't been bad, it hadn't been good. In fact, it wasn't unlike her early rowing practices. Sore muscles you didn't even know you had on the day after. But it got better, and she got better at it. Just like rowing.
This was the part she remembered the best: The motor court's diner had still been open then and afterwards she had blueberry pie, hot, with vanilla ice cream, the chubby king smiling benignly at her through the glass. That had been just perfect. To this day, blueberry pie made her blush. Now the diner was just a rusting a minum shell. Despite the reputation fostered by the film Diner, Baltimore had a severe diner deficit, if you didn't count the modem, ersatz ones, and Tess sure didn't. "Where have you gone, Barry Levinson?" she sang softly to herself. "Charm City lifts its hungry eyes to you." No more diners, no more tin men. No Johnny U's Golden Arm, no Gino's, no Hot Shoppes Jr.'s, no Little Taverns.
Great, her litany of fast-food ghosts had made her hungry. And her right leg was cramping up. She eased the driver's seat back, tried to massage her hamstring, but a twelve-year-old Toyota Corolla just didn't afford much room when you were five-foot-nine and most of it was inseam. Damn, she hated surveillance work. She tried to make it a rule not to take such assignments, but principles had to be suspended sometimes in light of certain economic realities. Or, in this case, when a certain friend had promised her services without asking first.