Review

Another Thing to Fall

by Laura Lippman

Private investigator Tess Monaghan rows for pleasure and
exercise on Baltimore's Patapsco River. One day, while paddling
down the river and paying more attention to the music pouring
through her headphones than to her surroundings, she encounters a
police boat zipping toward her. The boat's wake topples her own,
sending her into the river. Her rescuers inform her that she has
ruined a scene being shot by "Mann of Steel," the television series
that is filming locally. When she tries to apologize, she is met
with hostility by Flip Tumulty, the show's executive producer, and
by Greer, his assistant.

But when Flip discovers that Tess is a private investigator, he
insists on hiring her as a security guard for the program’s
temperamental and not-too-bright young star, Selene Waites. Tess
knows there have been problems with the show's filming; locals are
protesting and activists are up in arms. However, she is surprised
to learn that there has been a suicide that just might be linked to
the series. The victim, a local man who had no known connection to
"Mann of Steel," had many photographs of Selene in his home when he
died.

Flip confides that he worries about the young actor's
vulnerability. He states that without Selene, there would be no
show, catching Tess by surprise since she thought the lead actor
was the now middle-aged and portly has-been teen star Johnny Tampa.
(Tess doesn't admit to Flip that, in her adolescent years, she had
a major crush on Tampa.) In a desperate attempt to avoid getting
the job, Tess jacks up her fee and demands that her boyfriend's
teen protégé, Lloyd Jupiter, be hired as well. But the
next thing she knows, she and Lloyd are both signed on.

The reader is privy to tantalizing bits of information from the
point of view of various characters, gaining knowledge that Tess
herself doesn't have, even as the incidents on the set escalate.
Laura Lippman skillfully teases us with puzzle pieces that don't
quite fit together to give us the complete picture, while
describing the fascinating world of television series production,
making ANOTHER THING TO FALL another Tess Monaghan
page-turner.

Tess herself is an endearing character, matter-of-fact that she's
no size zero wisp (instead, she's a comfortable size 12 or 14) and
that she likes to eat, especially foods that have been banned by
health authorities. She also reveals a truly kind heart, finding
interesting possibilities in an individual who could easily be a
stock comic character --- a large, older woman named Mrs. Blossom
who wears flowery dresses and desires to work as a private
investigator. Lippman's characters are nicely complex; many show
surprising aspects to their personalities. Although it may feel
that the actual mystery plot takes just a bit of a backseat to
quirky people and to television show production politics, readers
are bound to enjoy the leisurely ride.

ANOTHER THING TO FALL is the 10th Tess Monaghan book. It works well
as a stand-alone, but newcomers are sure to find themselves with a
sudden urge to read the previous installments in the series
ASAP.

Reviewed by Terry Miller Shannon on January 11, 2011

Another Thing to Fall
by Laura Lippman

  • Publication Date: March 1, 2008
  • Genres: Fiction, Mystery
  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow
  • ISBN-10: 0061128872
  • ISBN-13: 9780061128875