By a Spider’s Thread by Laura Lippman

Word Lily review

By a Spider’s Thread by Laura Lippman, book 8 in the Tess Monaghan series (William Morrow, 2004), 368 pages

Mark Rubin, orthodox Jew and wealthy Baltimore furrier, insists that he had a perfectly happy marriage, despite the fact that his wife and three children vanished. The police won’t help, so he comes to Tess.

I blew through most of this series this fall. I’m not planning on reviewing most of them, though; I just don’t feel like I have much to say about them. They were all enjoyable, but mostly quickly forgotten. And since I read five of them back to back, they kind of blend together in my mind.

Really, this one is no exception. I have but one rant, and it’s really more of an editing rant than a beef with the actual story, but it won’t leave me alone, so here I am. Note: I read the hardcover, so maybe (hopefully!) this was fixed in later editions already.

Speaking of Tess’s newly formed country-wide group of female private detectives, the book states:

“There were still some wide-open places to be filled — they had no one to cover the vast swath west of the Mississippi and east of the Rockies, and an Atlanta connection would have been helpful. But they were otherwise solid along the eastern seaboard and could do most of Texas and the Pacific Coast in a pinch.”

~page 30, By a Spider’s Thread

See the problem?

Yes, I’m probably more attuned to it than some, since I live in that vast wasteland known as the Midwest. But there’s no excuse for screwing up (so badly) on geography. Look at a map! Most of Texas lies between the Rocky Mountains and the Mississippi River.

I understand that Tess lives in Baltimore and hasn’t ever ventured far from there and is probably clueless about this, as so many people who live on the coasts are. But this paragraph wasn’t really in her words. It should have been accurate.

Anyway, like I said, I’ve generally enjoyed this series. I like how rooted they are in their place, and Tess and her family are delightfully flawed.

I think my favorite aspect of this book is how her partly Jewish, partly not, background tugs on Tess in various scenarios.

Rating: 3 stars

About the author
Laura Lippman grew up in Baltimore and returned there in 1989 to work as a journalist. She has won numerous awards for her work. I interviewed her last year. Her most recently published is The Most Dangerous Thing.

My reviews of other Lippman books
Baltimore Blues (book 1 of the Tess Monaghan series)
Life Sentences (a standalone)

Other reviews
Rhapsody in Books
A Worn Path
Have you reviewed this book? Leave me a link and I’ll add it here.

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6 responses to “By a Spider’s Thread by Laura Lippman

  1. This is a series I see recommended frequently. One of these days I’ll get to it 🙂

  2. Nice to see you reviewing again! LOL at needing to get this off your chest, though. 🙂 I totally understand.

  3. I’ve read a few of this series and I enjoyed them too, but you’re right that they’re not books that stick with you for a long time.

  4. I see your point about Texas, but my impression is that they might consider Texas meriting separate notice because of how huge it is! So I’m not sure that wasn’t on purpose… :–) But of course, you’re also right about people on the East Coast. When I left Maryland for Wisconsin to go to school in Madison, every vacation back home people would ask me either “So how is Michigan?” or “So how is Minnesota?” LOL

  5. I’ve the first several of these books and really enjoy them, but they really don’t stick with you. But I don’t read mystery series for their stick-to-it-iveness. I’ve found a few errors in the Tess books and on the audios. Drives me nuts. Where were her editors?

  6. Goodness, here is ANOTHER option for the creepy-crawlies category of What’s in a Name! I’m seeing these everywhere…

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