cover image Butchers Hill

Butchers Hill

Laura Lippman. Avon Books, $7.99 (288pp) ISBN 978-0-380-79846-9

Tess Monaghan, newspaperwoman turned sleuth, makes it official with a new business as a PI in a run-down section of Baltimore, Butchers Hill. Her first clients--an elderly man known as the Butcher of Butchers Hill and a highly successful female professional fund-raiser--present the first dilemma. Tess needs a cover, reluctantly supplied by Client 2, in order to get access to information on the ghetto for Client 1. The process of finding diverse missing persons starts Monaghan and her two black clients on sometimes prickly discourse involving race. As in Baltimore Blues and Charm City, dialogue is on the mark, accompanied by lively observations about female entrepreneurship, adoption, foster home rackets, and quirky Baltimore natives and neighborhoods. A bittersweet, perfectly plausible ending winds things up. (July)