"The Sugar House," by Laura Lippman (William Morrow, 320 pages, $24).
Laura Lippman is a Sun reporter, a treasured colleague and a serial mysterian, This is her fifth intricated Baltimore-based, newspaper-tinted whodunit. There is no way that appears on these pages -- by me or anyone else -- is likely to be taken as coldly objective. But I shall tell you this: The earlier Tess Monaghan mysteries have been vastly and justly lauded, and I found this one at least as strong and attention devouring as its predecessors. Lots of local color, in town and beyond to Annapolis, the peninsula and even Philadelphia. Lots of sleuthing and rationating, if you get my drift. If I were you, I'd read it. But, then, I already have. Good stuff.