In this novel we begin with a boy who seems presumably kidnapped going up to a security guard saying that his mom and some man have taken him all across the country indicating some kind of kidnapping. We return to Tess, where she is approached by a conservative Jewish man (who won’t shake her hand) asking her to track down his wife and children. Because they are not divorced, this doesn’t amount to a crime, but is a kind of pre-crime. Tess finds out she’s a Ukrainian Jewish immigrant living coming from an immigrant community in Baltimore county (Pikesville/Reisterstown), and so she starts to piece together that she brought a lot more baggage to the marriage than her 19 years presumably indicated.
Similar to some previous Tess Monaghan novels in the sense that this feels like a character episode in search of a more compelling case. There’s a little too much of “oh it turns out we hadn’t properly written a novel about this part of Tess’s life, so we should now” to this one, with her being half-Jewish from her mother’s side. On the other hand, this one starts off in the part of Baltimore I lived in directly so a lot of the geography was specifically very familiar to me, which is of course fun. There’s a few too many Jewish jokes made by Jewish characters to make me feel good about this one, and there’s an absolutely confounding conversation about deaf interpreters in the novel that both doesn’t make any sense or serve any purpose.