Monday, November 21, 2011

Baltimore Blues

Book Review

Baltimore Blues by Laura Lippman

I hadn't read anything by Lippman when a friend suggested that I do. Then we started talking about it and I realized I needed to start at the beginning. See, I had stumbled upon the umpteenth new release of a series.

This was going to be the beginning of another series.

I wasn't sure if I was ready for another series, since I'm still working on another.

Ah, well. Sometimes what's available in the library wins out.

Baltimore Blues

Just as the name implies, this story is based in Baltimore, Maryland. But I never did figure out what the "Blues" referred to in the story.

Maybe it alludes to the protagonist's mental state.

Or maybe the author or publisher just liked the alliteration.

This book is a murder mystery, but it certainly isn't very heavy. Not heavy in reading. Not heavy in feelings. Not heavy in substance. Not heavy in physical weight.

I like to use the term "fluff" for the light-hearted reading that counter balances the heavier classics that I read. This book doesn't quite fall into my "fluff" category (like Bridget Jones does), but it doesn't carry the weight of being a substantial ready either.

Maybe "light" reading? Even though it is a murder mystery?


Unfortunately, I didn't love this book. It was just okay. The plot was varied and twisted enough to keep me trying to put the pieces together, but that also was the inherent problem with the book too. Maybe I'm too simple-minded. Maybe I need the author to connect every single dot for me. I never thought I needed this, but this book made me wonder. It is either that, or the author didn't do enough of legwork for me to put it together on my own.

I did put it together, but I didn't like having to stretch and wonder and guess about how certain things related to other things. I didn't like how jumpy the writing was. I felt like the prose was a grasshopper, jumping from character to character, location to location, without getting in depth with anyone or anywhere.

And this lack of depth really comes to the forefront with our protagonist, Tess. Her bed fellow is killed right before her eyes and yet I get no sense that this really matters to her. A few words are devoted to it here and there, but I just didn't get any feeling with those words. This is where the book lost interest for me. I kept reading to finish the plot, but the main character just didn't cut it.

Besides, it this was, in fact, intended to be "light" reading, why would the author kill off the bed fellow? To me, that just screams of being too personal to be "light" reading without alienating the reader. Or, at least this reader.

So, in the end, the plot comes around and closes the loop on most of the outstanding threads, but I'm not thrilled with the author's writing. Her writing style is okay, but the jumpiness and the lack of explaining things early on leaves me asking to many questions.  I'm just not thrilled.

And I just don't know if I will continue with the series.

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