Last to Die

 Tess Gerritsen is an author I just can’t get enough of.  Her writing holds a lot of charm and it always engages me until I’ve finished, and usually that’s in one sitting as I can’t put it down.  In a long running series, it can be hard to keep continuity and freshness but she manages it somehow.  Being part of a series does also make a book hard to review, as I don’t want to spoil things for others.

Last to Die is the latest book featuring Detective Jane Rizzoli and Medical Examiner Maura Isles.  I liked the story a lot as it brings in some threads from previous books and we get to see Rat again (the boy that has a special connection with Maura).  His new school is the setting for a lot of the story and as you find out more about the history and the people, it becomes more and more intriguing.

The crime that starts us off is actually quite heartbreaking and that quickly turned to shock for me as Tess takes us through seemingly disparate situations, all equally sad.  Her talent for twists comes into play several times throughout the book and I always admire that they are plausible but not obvious.

The pace was good, feeling very urgent in some places while also having some necessary light relief with the Rizzoli clan’s family problems.  Another of Gerritsen’s talents lies in her characters.  We meet several new people and they quickly feel real and solid, even if the end result is you dislike them.  The kids stole the show for me though, they were funny and clever, especially the ones in the Jackals forensic club.

Now I say this a lot and maybe it’s because I am naive or I read too quickly but I did not see the end coming.  At all.  I like to think it is the skill with which the plot is written, that enough logical confusion is introduced to hide the truth but wow.  Just wow.  There is even a twist within the twist that left me thinking long after I’d closed the book.

My one negative comment is that I’m not sure if the characters have changed slightly and now feel more like the Rizzoli and Isles of the TV series or if it’s just that the show has caught their fictional personalities very well.  Either way it’s not a huge thing but I do now want to go back and re-read the previous books to see if that is the case… or maybe I’m just looking for an excuse to read them again!

Either way this is a great book and established fans will love it and new ones will want to know more!

Rating: ★★★★½ 

Book Information
  • Author: Tess Gerritsen
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The Silent Girl

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.

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Book Information
  • Author: Tess Gerritsen
  • Buy from Amazon (UK)

The Killing Place

With Maura Isles missing, a burned car with four bodies and the local police insisting nothing more sinister was going on than an accident, Detective Jane Rizzoli refuses to accept the evidence that her friend could be dead.

A wrong turn in the snow led Maura and her companions to Kingdom Come, a place of questions and mystery.  A town abandoned, seemingly in an instant and no evidence of the occupants other than a few unsettling clues.

Will Rizzoli find her friend alive and uncover the truth behind Kingdom Come?

It was great to see a new ‘Rizzoli and Isles’ book.  I’ve definitely enjoyed the re-releasing of Gerritsen’s romantic thrillers but she creates something very special when she gets these two characters together.  Their shared history makes them very good friends and I love how that closeness was portrayed when Jane Rizzoli realised her friend was in trouble, possibly dead.  Two such different personalities yet they work very well together.

As to the story, well I read the whole book in one day and couldn’t put it down.  It was gripping, absorbing, emotional and kept me on the edge of my seat hoping that things were not how they seemed.  After the initial build up, the shocks kept on coming in Gerritsen’s usual style yet they were all natural progressions, nothing forced or out of line with what I thought the characters would do.

The pace worked really well, starting at an easy flow then increasing until I had to take breaks to have a reality check before diving back in again.  The twist at the end was outstanding and I was completely oblivious to it until it arrived, although I did have the sense that all was not right, I just couldn’t put my finger on why.

It’s always hard to know how much to say without spoiling it for others but there were a few moments that really got to me, and I’m sure you will know exactly what I mean when you read The Killing Place for yourself.

And you really need to, it’s a good one!

Rating: ★★★★½ 

Book Information
  • Author: Tess Gerritsen
  • Buy from Amazon (UK)