Would you sacrifice your life for the life of another? That's the choice Tess Monaghan must face . . .
When the body of Federal Attorney Gregory Youssef is found dumped on the edge of Baltimore, every cop in the city is determined to catch his killer. But four months on, no one has been brought to justice and the department is under massive pressure to deliver a suspect. Meanwhile, Tess' boyfriend insists on helping a homeless black teenager. He brings Lloyd home for some food and a bed for the night, but when Tess mentions the Youssef case, Lloyd freezes.
That night, Lloyd sneaks out of the house and disappears. What is the link between Youssef's death and the teenager? Tess tracks Lloyd down and convinces him to share what he knows - which she then passes on to the press on the condition that Lloyd's name isn't used. But they use Tess' name instead.
Before long the situation spins wildly out of control, leaving Tess to fear not only for Lloyd, but also for those closest to her . . .
Smartly plotted and paced, Lippman's ninth Tess Monaghan novel (after By a Spider's Thread) opens with a somewhat unlikely scenario: Tess's boyfriend, Edgar "Crow" Ransome, brings home for the night a homeless teenager, Lloyd, who slashed Crow's tires outside a Baltimore soup kitchen. When PI Tess discovers that Lloyd has information regarding the recent murder of Assistant U.S. Attorney Gregory Youssef, Tess gives his story, sans name, to the local paper, so the authorities will get it secondhand. After a crony of Lloyd's is murdered instead of Lloyd, Tess receives her first visit from a sinister trio of law enforcement agents avid to know her source. Crow flees with Lloyd while Tess suffers growing pressure, including the threat of federal jail time. Baltimore itself is the book's most compelling character, its uneasy mix of aspiration and decay perfectly suited to Lippman's ironic voice. Crow is the book's weakest link; even a late revelation about his motives fails to make his sudden paternalism toward Lloyd believable. Happily, Lippman's loyal fans won't mind. Author tour.