Books by the Sun's Lippman, Reimer, Rodricks

June 14, 1998|By Michael Pakenham

Their first job is to bring news and insights to the Sun's readers, but Sun staff writers go on churning out books. The three latest to hit the shelves of book shops are, as is our practice, listed here in alphabetical order of the writers' names, and without critical judgment except to record that as colleagues, all of us at The Sun wish the books and their authors the success they deserve.

Laura Lippman, a features reporter on the Sun staff, has turned out her third paperback mystery in as many years. It is "Butchers Hill" (Avon, 288 pages, $5.99 paperback).

The setting is in the Baltimore neighborhood of its title - which in its palmier days was actually significantly populated by prosperous butchers.

The book is, first of all, populated by Tess Monaghan. Nobody should be surprised that Ms. Monaghan, a crisply quippy private investigator, is a former reporter who knows the town - and lots about it and about crime - very well indeed.

Least of all should anybody be surprised that central to the scheme of things is a murderer who swiftly becomes known as "the butcher of Butcher Hill."

The unsurprising stops with these points. The plot is unfurled with tender care, with the style and manner that earned Lippman an Edgar Award for her previous Monaghan caper, "Charm City," and which won loyal readership with her first, "Baltimore Blues."

Susan Reimer, the Sun features columnist on matters of home, hearth and heart, has brought together an assemblage of her writings under the title "Motherhood Is a Contact Sport" (Baltimore Sun, 208 pages, $11.95 ).

After more than a decade at the Sun as a sports writer and editor, Reimer has been doing her column, focused on family life, since 1993. Those articles constitute most of this book.

Together, among other things, they tell of the evolution of a "college firebrand," who scorned almost everything except self-righteousness and self-indulgence, into a modern mother and wife. "I am the woman I once ridiculed," she writes. "The car-pooling mom, driving Little Leaguers around in a station wagon, fixing treats for school parties and endlessly debating school issues with other mothers."

Dan Rodricks, who writes the Sun's "This Just In" column, has written the introductory material for "Baltimore: Charm City" (Towery Publishing, 400 pages, $44.95), a coffee-table book dominated by photographs that were chosen and organized by Roger Miller, the photo editor.

The last 150 pages of the book are filled with "Profiles in Excellence," written by Carolyn Spencer Brown, describing a series of businesses, community organizations and professional groups that have sponsored the publication.

There have been a marvelous number of books about Baltimore, many of them rich in photographs, but I know of none that has as much in the way of color, variety and characteristic images as this one.

Pub Date: 6/14/98

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