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No Good Deeds: A Tess Monaghan Novel    by Laura Lippman order for
No Good Deeds
by Laura Lippman
Order:  USA  Can
William Morrow, 2007 (2006)
Hardcover, Paperback, Audio, e-Book

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* *   Reviewed by J. A. Kaszuba Locke

Detective Tess Monaghan and her boyfriend, Edgar 'Crow' Ransome prune their on-again relationship, living together at Tess's place. It's been about a year since federal prosecutor Gregory Youssef was found stabbed to death, his body dumped in the Patapsco River. Federal agencies backed off when it was rumored that Youssef was involved that night in a tryst with a male prostitute. However, it could have been drug-related, or terrorists' revenge, as Youssef brought many such cases to court. The federals let the cold case float over to local county officials, yet it's not forgotten.

Tess has been hired by Beacon-Light editors for consulting work, specifically to 'take three recent cases in the news and use them as sort of intellectual object lessons, walk them through all the possible scenarios in an investigation.' As Crow puts it, 'WWTMD - What Would Tess Monaghan Do?' All of a sudden, there is renewed interest in the cold case from the feds. We have FBI agent Barry Jenkins who 'always found a way to turn his weaknesses into strengths'. From the DEA comes Mike 'Bully' (short for Bulova) Collins, big and handsome with 'nerves of steel, balls of brass, heart of gold. All those metals'. And the USADA office has ambitious new recruit Gabe Delasio, six months in office, his sights set on the highest - 'why not me as a federal judge?'

Lloyd Jupiter is a sixteen-year old troubled teen, who has no use for more schooling. He's involved in a continuing caper with a friend. One slashes a tire, and when the car owner shows up, Lloyd jumps in with a tire iron to offer assistance - for money of course. One evening, Crow uses Tess's Lexus, as his Volvo is in need of repair. Lloyd comes by, and the charitable Crow (who works the homeless, and soup kitchen scenes) offers Lloyd dinner and a room for the night at Tess's place. She's leery of Lloyd, justifiably. It turns out that Lloyd used the dead Youssef's ATM card the eve of his death. At next light, Lloyd takes off with a few articles from the household, attempting to steal one of the cars.

This is just the beginning of a nightmare for Tess as the federals gather round her after a Beacon-Light exclusive indicates she has a source regarding the Youssef murder. (Her name was not to be used, but somehow the newspaper did anyway.) To protect Lloyd - especially after a friend of is found dead - Crow travels out of town. Tess's friend, the wealthy Whitney Talbot, comes to the rescue. Tess tells us that 'having Whitney as a friend was like traveling around Baltimore with a white Siberian tiger.' (She is noticeable in voice, looks, and unpredictability, and always the center of attention.) Also always dependable is Tess's aunt, Kitty Monaghan, Women and Children First bookstore owner.

No Good Deeds is a worthwhile book for readers (especially Lippman fans) who have the patience to get through quite a bit of story before the author brings Tess in for a home run, with the bases loaded. But, do not be discouraged, as Tess performs astutely, with agents coming in for the kill - that is to ruin Tess and grab the source she is hiding. Notable mystery author Laura Lippman effectively uses the sights and sounds of her hometown, - Baltimore MD, 'an urban Mayberry where everyone knows everyone ... read the newspaper and rediscover that there are really two Baltimores. Rich and poor. White and black. Ours. Theirs.'

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