cover image Hardly Knew Her

Hardly Knew Her

Laura Lippman, . . Morrow, $23.95 (292pp) ISBN 978-0-06-158499-2

Fans of bestseller Lippman's long-running series featuring Baltimore PI Tess Monaghan (Another Thing to Fall , etc.) will be pleased to find that the 17 selections in her first short story collection are as intricate and witty as her novels. Part one, “Girls Gone Wild,” focuses on women engaged in all manner of shady enterprises, from first-time drug buyers in “The Crack Cocaine Diet” to an unassuming femme fatale with a secret in “Dear Penthouse Forum (A First Draft).” Lest readers think Lippman can only work her magic in her Maryland hometown, she devotes a section, “Other Cities, Not My Own,” to stories in settings as disparate as New Orleans during Mardi Gras (“Pony Girl”) and Dublin, Ireland, full of jilted lovers (“Honor Bar”). The book's climax is “Scratch a Woman,” a novella written for the collection and starring Heloise, the enterprising heroine of “One True Love,” an earlier entry. George Pelecanos provides an appreciative introduction. (Oct.)