Laura Lippman’s ‘Hush Hush’ Fails to Entertain [REVIEW]

Looking outside, longingly

When a woman returns to face the teen daughters she left behind, a private investigator must figure out whether she is guilty or innocent. (Photo by Don Harder, Flickr)

Following the death of her baby, she disappeared from the public eye. Now she’s back once more, and someone isn’t happy about it. Will a private investigator be able to protect the mother, or will she be the one to need protecting? Find out in Laura Lippman’s Hush Hush. 

Laura Lippman's HUSH HUSH

William Morrow

Melisandre Harris Dawes was acquitted of killing her infant daughter on the grounds of postpartum psychosis. Following the drama surrounding the case, Dawes sought therapy and then left Baltimore to go into hiding. Now she’s back to film her story and to claim custody of the two older daughters she left behind.

As Dawes returns to the limelight, someone isn’t happy about her homecoming. With notes left on her car’s windshield, on bags of groceries, and other discreet places, she hires Tess Monaghan and Sandy Sanchez to analyze her security.

Together, they dig deep to find out who is stalking Dawes, why those closest to her are in peril, and how they can keep the body count from rising as mysterious events continue to befall those nearest Melisandre. As Tess and Sandy investigate, they begin to wonder if the woman can be trusted at all or if there is something she isn’t telling them.

In the twelfth volume of this series, Lippman takes a current event (such as forgetting your baby in a hot car) and uses this as an excellent premise for a book, and in theory, this should have worked. However, the execution of this tale was poor. Although Lippman does portray Dawes as a psychotic, manipulative and self-centered person who is truly crazy, it feels like she forgets to flesh out every other character present. Also, she gets bogged down in transcripts of interviews which ultimately become confusing, because they make the reader keep referring back to the beginning of the chapter to figure out who is speaking.

Therefore, as much as I wanted to like Hush, Hush, the novel is mediocre at best, and thus becomes one of the weakest installments of the popular Tess Monaghan franchise. If you’re looking for superior domestic drama with a psychological bent, you’d do better to pick up books by Jonathan Kellerman or Joy Fielding and skip over this one altogether.

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Laura Lippman

Laura Lippman
(Photo by Leslie Unruh)


Laura Lippman is a New York Times bestselling novelist who has won more than 20 awards for her fiction—and been nominated for 30 more. Since her debut in 1997, she has published 20 novels, a novella and a collection of short stories.

Lit Hub recently named her one of the “essential” female crime writers of the last 100 years. She also has written for the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post and T magazine.

Her novel Every Secret Thing, optioned for film by Academy Award-winning actress Frances McDormand, premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival in April 2014, starring Diane Lane, Elizabeth Banks, and Dakota Fanning.

Laura lives in Baltimore with her husband, David Simon, and their daughter. Visit her home on the Web at, like her on Facebook, and follow her on Twitter and Instagram.

By Laura Lippman
320 pp. William Morrow. $26.99

Purchase Hush, Hush at one of these fine online retailers: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, IndieBound, and Powell’s.

About Heather Fink
Heather Fink is a writer, bibliophile and award-winning librarian who loves to introduce the next generation of readers to the wonderful world of books. She currently resides in Texas.

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