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Another Thing to Fall
Another Thing to Fall
by Laura Lippman

Humorous Hollywood culture mystery with rich characterization.
In Laura Lippman's ANOTHER THING TO FALL, Private Investigator Tess Monaghan enters the world of Hollywoood as the television series Mann of Steel comes to Baltimore. Filled with humorous and often sarcastic insights into the a culture of celebrity and a behind the scenes of look at the film/television industry, this mystery will have readers laughing aloud as Tess's more literary insights chafe against the world around her.

With rowing season soon at an end, Baltimore P.I. Tess Monaghan takes her scull out for a workout. Headphones in use, she has no idea of the dangers ahead until she crashes, ruining the shoot for a television series. Baltimore has not exactly embraced the presence of Mann of Steel inside its city. The press pans the movie for its disruption of the neighborhood , its indifference to the steel industry, a series of small accidents and the bad behavior of the emerging star, Selena Waites. The series creator, Flip Tumulty, the son of a Hollywood legend, hires Tess to act as a bodyguard to protect the interest of his film and the spoiled actress. After all, a man was found dead, surrounded by photographs of the young star just about the time the set experienced the little incidents of accidents or sabotage. Despite her uneasy introduction to the cast and set, Tess agrees to play babysitter. Tess discovers that her assignment is not as easy as appears when she is forced to spend her time with a group of people who annoy her with their obsession on appearance, their lack of knowledge about Baltimore, literature , history and just about everything else that is not film related. Everyone has an angle. Everyone has an agenda to put themselves first. To make matters worse, Selena gives Tess the slip, proving she is more devious and hard to handle than Tess ever imagined. When a murder occurs, Tess cannot help but investigate even if only unofficially. As she looks more deeply into the cast of characters and the details of the murder, Tess discovers all is not what it appears. Fictive celebrity masks, jealousies and the hunger for fame are only the first layers Tess must unveil to unravel all the threads that led to murder.

Laura Lippman assembles an intriguing and often hilarious cast of characters in her latest Tess Monaghan mystery. Selena Waites stars as the rising Hollywood creation, an actress (or actor as women are now called in the movie culture) with an insatiable appetite who never seems to actually eat. Oblivious to everything and everyone around her, Selena represents the perfect example of a culture and generation oblivious to all else but the present and fulfilling every whim and want. Next to Selena stars Johnny Tampa, the aging and overweight actor looking for a comeback. When Selena's role suddenly grows, overshadowing his role in the series, is he jealous or hungry enough to take matters into his own hands? Did one of the entourage of men surrounding Selena, men captivated by her beauty and celebrity, have a hand in the mysterious happenings? Flip Tumulty, anxious to make a name for himself rather be compared to his father's legendary fame will do anything to insure the success of his new series. How far will he go to protect or publicize himself? Greer took over her position next to Flip in a well-orchestrated coup of greed and manipulation. Did she go one step too far? Whose chain did she rattle just enough to make them resort to murder?

ANOTHER THING TO FALL is a masterpiece of characterization. The reader sees Tess's character mostly as a contrast to the movie culture that has invaded her town. Through Tess, sarcasm, humor and a broader reality provide a stark contrast to the insulated world of Hollywood. Readers will laugh aloud at some of the riotous portraits. This reader has not read such a fun and funny mystery in years! Humor gives way to a finely detailed structure of motivations and personalities as these characters chafe and battle for supremacy in a series which can make or break them. As Tess reminds herself and the reader, she does not have to like the characters she investigates ---the job is to discover the culprit and keep Selena safe. Even the secondary characters are well written and integrated into the plot with just the right timing. Mrs. Blossom, a student from Tess's class adds humor and a mystery twist to ANOTHER THING TO FALL .

As Tess unearths more and more clues, ANOTHER THING TO FALL examines all the motives and seething undercurrents behind the television shoot. First impressions give way to something much richer. Just as Tess's sarcasm reaches its height, the reader suddenly notices that this horrible, humorous cast of insipid actors and support crew have captured one's heart. In a subtly orchestrated change of tone, the reader moves from laughing at the expense of these Hollywood creations to caring for the personalities beneath. Laura Lippman gives readers a welcome dose of reality with her critique of the movie/television industry, providing a humorous antidote to a culture obsessed with celebrity and Hollywood. At the same time, ANOTHER THING TO FALL goes beyond humor and mystery to provide the reader with a compassionate view of the people behind the façade. ANOTHER THING TO FALL is an intriguing look into character in a mystery with clever plot twists ---- a mystery and so much more. Absolutely brilliant!

Publisher: William Morrow (March 2008)

Reviewed by Merrimon, Merrimon Book Reviews
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