Monday, January 17, 2011

Review: The Girl in the Green Raincoat

Summary: In the third trimester of her pregnancy, Baltimore private investigator Tess Monaghan is under doctor's orders to remain immobile. Bored and restless, reduced to watching the world go by outside her window, she takes small comfort in the mundane events she observes . . . like the young woman in a green raincoat who walks her dog at the same time every day. Then one day the dog is running free and its owner is nowhere to be seen. Certain that something is terribly wrong, and incapable of leaving well enough alone, Tess is determined to get to the bottom of the dog walker's abrupt disappearance, even if she must do so from her own bedroom. But her inquisitiveness is about to fling open a dangerous Pandora's box of past crimes and troubling deaths . . . and she's not only putting her own life in jeopardy but also her unborn child's. 

Previously serialized in the New York Times, and now published in book form for the very first time, The Girl in the Green Raincoat is a masterful Hitchcockian thriller from one of the very best in the business: multiple award-winner Laura Lippman.-- Avon

A few months ago, I read I'D KNOW YOU ANYWHERE by Laura Lippman, and I was blown away by it -- you can read my review here. One of my unofficial goals for reading in 2011 was to read more of Ms. Lippman's books. So I started with her latest, a novella from her Tess Monaghan series called THE GIRL IN THE GREEN RAINCOAT.

Now I know many of you are thinking that you couldn't start a series in the middle or even at the end like I did. To be honest, I don't like doing it either. But I've learned that I'm missing out on some wonderful books and characters because of my issue. And in the case of THE GIRL IN THE GREEN RAINCOAT, I could tell that I was missing out on some character and plot development, but it didn't really matter. Ms. Lippman provided enough details for me to catch-on. I still enjoyed the story despite not reading the prior novels, and there is no doubt that I will be picking up all of the Tess Monaghan books -- challenge, anyone?

THE GIRL IN THE GREEN RAINCOAT was initially serialized and published in the New York Times. I'd like to say that I was an astute enough reader to tell that the chapters were written as installments, but well... I wasn't. After I finished the novella and read the background on the story, I did I realize that each chapter kind of left me hanging in a way that made me want more. But I didn't find it that unusual in a mystery book. In addition, I now see that Ms. Lippman included side stories within some of the chapters/installments that probably worked very well in the New York Times serialization. But I also thought they worked well in introducing some of the characters to new readers -- like me.

As I read THE GIRL IN THE GREEN RAINCOAT, I couldn't help but be reminded of the Hitchcock movie Rear Window. In fact, Tess actually becomes interested in "the girl in the green raincoat" while looking out her window one day. Since Tess is bedridden due to complications from her pregnancy, she has to solve the entire mystery from her bedroom... and with the help of her friends. I am now a little curious to watch Rear Window again to see how much it influenced Ms. Lippman when she wrote this story.

I can't really speak as to how THE GIRL IN THE GREEN RAINCOAT compares to other Tess Monaghan books, but I can say that I found mystery to be a good one. There were twists and turns and even some suspense scenes which kept my interest. However, I also found that I enjoyed the character development of Tess and her friend Whitney. I am definitely looking forward to the next Tess Monaghan novel (and the old ones too!)

I found it interesting that there is a reading guide for THE GIRL WITH THE GREEN RAINCOAT. My group has never read and discussed a novella, but I started thinking that it could be perfect for the summer or holidays when we have less time to read. The discussion questions are very interesting and I also like the idea of comparing/contrasting this novella with the movie THE REAR WINDOW. Another topic that might be interesting to discuss is the huge amount of change (both professional and personal) that Tess is facing as she approaches motherhood.

I thought THE GIRL IN THE GREEN RAINCOAT was an entertaining read and well worth my time. Of course, it did result in making me crave more of Ms. Lippman's excellent writing!

Thanks to the publisher for sending me a review copy of this novella.


bermudaonion said...

I like to read series in order too, but have found that it doesn't really matter if the series is well written. This sounds like a winner!

rhapsodyinbooks said...

LOL - I have the same "issue." Fortunately I have not read anything by this author yet, so I could start at the beginning!

Rebecca Rasmussen said...

This is another book I have read so many reviews of: and everyone loved it! :)

marthalama said...

I'm almost OCD about reading series in order, but I'm getting better. I've been seeing this book all around and really want to read it and this series.

Sheila (Bookjourney) said...

I read a couple Lippman in 2010 and also plan to read more in 2011. This is one of the books on my radar!

April said...

This sounds soooo good!! I usually try to read series books in order, as well, however have not done so several times. This one just sounds too tempting to pass up. I will be adding it to my wish list!

Journey2Goal said...

I have an award for you on my blog!

Amy said...

I read I'd Know You Anywhere a few months ago, too and it was my first Laura Lippman book. I really enjoyed it and wondered about her Tess Monaghan series. Your great review of The Girl in the Green Raincoat has me convinced I should check out Lippman's Monaghan series. This novella intrigues me particularly because I love Rear Window but it also sounds like a very good mystery with the twists and turns that make the good thrillers so riveting!

Thank you for an awesome review!
~ Amy

iwriteinbooks said...

I haven't heard anything about this but I'll have to check it order of course. :O)

Beth F said...

This and your next two reviews -- I must skim -- they are all on my list and soon to be read. And I'm laughing at your issue because I recently decided that I have to ease up a bit on my need to read in order. There are too many great books and I don't want to miss out. Fortunately, I read the first couple in this series so I know Tess's background.