This is the first book in Lippman's Tess Monaghan series, and I could definitely tell that this was an early work. On the one hand, the writing is nowhere near as polished as that of more recent books such as What the Dead Know. However, it's not all bad news. Even though this book has its rough spots, Lippman slips in clever descriptions of places and people and there's an insight into what makes her characters tick that only grows sharper in her more recent work. It was kind of fun to see glimmers of the writer Lippman was going to become later on.That being said, this book did take me a while to read. Lots of the novel seemed to involve setup for characters who will appear later in the series and I felt as if I was constantly being fed information on various people and their backstories. And the major weakness? A lot of this story involved telling rather than showing. I felt as if the author constantly explained the story to me rather than simply telling it. In the end, this felt like a pretty ordinary mystery read. Lippman is a strong writer now, but this isn't her best.