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Seasonal Work: Stories


Seasonal Work: Stories

With the release of this collection of brilliant short stories, bestselling and award-winning author Laura Lippman gets an opportunity to really strut her stuff. I am a huge fan of her Tess Monaghan series, so I was thrilled to see Tess featured in the first two tales of SEASONAL WORK.

The approach Lippman took when compiling these pieces is a bit different from your typical short story collection. Only one story, “Just One More,” was written specifically for this book. The rest are from a fairly lengthy time span (2007-2019), and they aren’t connected in any way. So just sit back and enjoy Lippman working in the short form, where she can be fearless and provide something for each of her loyal fans.

"[S]it back and enjoy Lippman working in the short form, where she can be fearless and provide something for each of her loyal fans."

In the title story, Gary is a “criminally resourceful” single father who is struggling with buying Christmas gifts for his small family and keeping them from being stolen before he even gets home. He keeps his loved ones on the move so he can take advantage of whatever free gifts he can get from the new neighborhood and school. He has it down to a science, but when he arrives in Baltimore around Christmas, he catches the eye of a shrewd private eye named Tess Monaghan. The rest is classic Tess.

“The Book Thing” features Tess’ favorite local bookstore, which she likes to refer to as her “funky little children’s bookshop.” Tess understands the hardships that all owners of small, independent bookstores must face, and the owner of this shop has an amazing attitude. With a name like “The Book Thing,” you just have a feeling that everything is going to turn out just fine for them.

Of course, one of my favorite stories in SEASONAL WORK is “The Last of Sheila Locke-Holmes.” I just cannot get enough of the Great Detective, and just one week removed from reading Lyndsay Faye’s new Sherlock Holmes collection, I was very ready for this one. When Sheila Locke-Weiner is 11 years old, she opens her own detective agency. She wears a deerstalker cap, a utility belt and a t-shirt advertising her business name: Shelia Locke-Holmes. It is a short but whimsical tale with just enough of the Sherlock-infused spirit to keep me grinning from start to finish.

Lippman may have saved the best --- certainly the most poignant and timely tale --- for last. “Just One More” is firmly set within the pandemic. Married couple Kelley and Tom have seen COVID as an opportunity to binge certain TV series and catch up on some old favorites. They simply cannot miss “Columbo,” and 9:30pm has been designated as “Columbo Time,” no matter what else they might be doing.

This story really hits home; it’s extremely relatable to all the new habits and survivor skills we had to learn during our lockdown period. For me, it was TV shows, jigsaw puzzles and, of course, terrific books like this one to get me through. Thank you, Laura Lippman, for taking the time to share your experiences through Kelley and Tom with us!

Reviewed by Ray Palen on January 14, 2022

Seasonal Work: Stories
by Laura Lippman

  • Publication Date: January 31, 2023
  • Genres: Fiction, Mystery, Short Stories
  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
  • ISBN-10: 0063144026
  • ISBN-13: 9780063144026