This book has so many layers to it. It’s not just a great crime novel but also gives an insight into Chinese culture and mythology. I don’t know if I am biased because I heard Tess Gerritsen speak about her heritage and what it meant to her, but it felt like a very personal book nonetheless.
It was great to catch up with Jane Rizzoli and Maura Isles and find out where they were at in their lives. I thought it was interesting how differently the two friends view the world, and this is something that becomes a theme throughout the book. Maura sees things in black and white, that evidence is fact and she follows the evidence, even if she, and others, might not like the outcome. Rizzoli is more practical and can see the grey areas in between. Again she might not like it, but having been a cop for so long, she doesn’t have the luxury of seeing things the way Maura does.
I loved the new additions to the cast; Bella Li, Iris Fang, and Detective Johnny Tam. All three were well rounded, believable and likeable, in spite of the subject matter they were having to deal with. Detective Tam in particular is a character I hope we see again as he is very personable. I hope his quest to join Homicide full time is realised in future books.
Two characters from a previous book came to visit Maura and I loved seeing Rat and Bear again. I love that Maura, for all her logic, wanted to maintain the connection with them, even if she struggles with what to do. Rat proves he has a sharp intelligence as he spots some things in the case files that Maura hadn’t seen. I believe the next book by Tess Gerritsen will feature the boy and his dog as the central characters when Maura visits and realises that all is not well at the school. I can’t wait for that!
The pace of the story was a little odd, not Gerritsen’s usual style but the reason is very much bound up in the story. The flow gets interrupted by monologues and memories of one of the new characters but rather than jerking me out of the story, I found it made it more intriguing. Brief glimpses into a complex personality that has been strengthened by more grief than anyone should know.
The crime itself starts very simply, a hand found in an alley in Boston’s Chinatown. It builds from there into something far bigger and shocking as each piece of the puzzle is found. I didn’t actually want to believe the picture the puzzle was revealing. Interwoven with the crime is the history of a tragedy decades ago, starting with a massacre at a restaurant in Chinatown. The attitudes and racism of the time meant things were missed, assumptions were made which led to mistakes in the investigation. Families that had been torn apart suffered, and with long memories and deeply seated grief, they refused to let it rest. What really happened that night? Was it as it seemed? And how did it connect to this disembodied hand now? It was fascinating and gripping and I couldn’t stop reading until I knew, even as disturbing as it was.
The Chinese mythology of the Monkey King was brilliantly used and added one of the layers I mentioned before. It was both compelling and confusing, which I think was the intention. Monkey was as mischievous as he was helpful in the legends, and the use of that throughout the book was really well done.
Not a book in Gerritsen’s usual style but just as gripping a read and it really proves why she is at the forefront of the Crime genre.