Hush Hush by Laura Lippman

Hush HushReviewed by Caryn St. Clair

After taking a break from the Tess Monaghan books to write several stand -a -lone novels, Lippman returns to Tess for a twelfth book in <em>Hush Hush</em>.  The story picks up three years after readers last saw Tess, now a mother of a three year old daughter.  Tess struggles with motherhood,  feeling like she doesn’t have the parenting instincts, yet in constant awe of her daughter. She also struggles with her relationship with Crow, Carla Scout’s father and Tess’s long time lover. Despite the bumps in her personal life Tess is ready and willing to take on a difficult case, but that too becomes a struggle as the details of the client’s past unfold.

Twelve years ago Melisandre Harris Dawes drove her infant daughter to the riverside, parked her car, rolled up the windows and got out to sit and wait while her baby girl cooked to death. She was acquitted due to insanity and sent to a hospital. Now she is out, ready to film a documentary about her  case and begin a relationship with her two teenage daughters.  Her former husband has remarried and now has an infant son.  While he initially agrees to let the girls decided whether to see their mom or not, he changes his mind and decides to prevent it. And then he is found dead at the couple’s former home and once again Melisandre is a suspect in a murder case. Sandy, Tess’s partner is hired by Melisandre’s attorney to find evidence to prove her innocence.

This book is less like the Tess Monaghan, newspaper reporter and more like her stand-a-lone books steeped in social issues. For one thing, there is not a likeable character among the group. And I’m including the series regulars in that too. By half way through the book I did not like Tess much anymore either.  The plot is drawn out with several subplots tied into it. It becomes more of a character story and a commentary on married life and parenthood at times as well. But the crux of the case-was Melisandre crazy when she left her baby to die in the hot car or not, and is she sane now is a compelling one played out across the country every week.

If fans of Tess can stand her being bogged down in motherhood and a stagnated relationship, the plot of  <em>Hush Hush</em> will keep you reading. If not, then this might be a DID NOT FINISH for them.

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