New York Times bestselling author Laura Lippman plunges Baltimore private investigator Tess Monaghan into a twisted and disturbing case.
Tess Monaghan has encountered almost every possible criminal motive throughout her career: greed, revenge, jealousy, rage. But there are crimes that defy all attempts at understanding, where a search for motive seems pointless.
Melisandre Harris Dawes committed such a crime. Found not guilty by reason of insanity, she fled the country, leaving her two daughters with their father. Twelve years later, she’s back in Baltimore, and Tess is asked to provide security detail while Melisandre films a documentary about her attempts to reconcile with her now teenaged children.
Tess, juggling work with caring for her demanding toddler, is uneasy about the case. Still, Melisandre’s lawyer is family. And there is something about the woman herself—confident, beautiful, shrewdly intelligent—that draws Tess in. Is she a master manipulator or someone who was driven to temporary madness? Cold and calculating, or a mother concerned for her daughters’ well being? Someone is leaving Melisandre enigmatic, threatening notes. Soon Tess, insecure about her parenting abilities and receiving cryptic messages of her own, isn’t sure whether she should be protecting Melisandre from harm—or protecting everyone else from Melisandre.
When Melisandre becomes the prime suspect in a murder, Tess must uncover the truth. Doing so will mean confronting her deepest beliefs about what separates good parents from bad, madness from sanity, and what lengths even the most rational person will go to, to protect what they cherish most.
In bestseller Lippman's searing 12th installment in her series featuring Baltimore PI Tess Monaghan (last seen in the 2011 novella "The Girl in the Green Raincoat"), Tess, now the mother of a three-year-old girl with longtime boyfriend Crow, reluctantly takes a security job from attorney Tyner Gray, a family friend. Tyner represents Melisandre Harris Dawes, who, 12 years earlier, intentionally left her infant daughter in a hot car to die. Melisandre, a former lawyer, successfully argued that she suffered from postpartum psychosis, and was found not guilty by reason of insanity. She left Baltimore and her two young daughters behind, and moved abroad. Now Melisandre is back, with a documentary filmmaker in tow, to reunite with her daughters, 17-year-old Alanna and 15-year-old Ruby, who live with their father, Stephen, his new wife, and their baby. Tess, along with her new partner, ex-cop Sandy Sanchez, must assess Melisandre's security risks. Lippman expertly delves into what it means to be mad and more importantly, what comes next.