Review: The Silent Girl – Tess Gerritsen

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Rizzoli & Isles #9

SYNOPSIS: Every crime scene tells a story. Some keep you awake at night. Others haunt your dreams. The grisly display homicide cop Jane Rizzoli finds in Boston’s Chinatown will do both.

In the murky shadows of an alley lies a female’s severed hand. On the tenement rooftop above is the corpse belonging to that hand, a red-haired woman dressed all in black, her head nearly severed. Two strands of silver hair—not human—cling to her body. They are Rizzoli’s only clues, but they’re enough for her and medical examiner Maura Isles to make the startling discovery: that this violent death had a chilling prequel.

Nineteen years earlier, a horrifying murder-suicide in a Chinatown restaurant left five people dead. But one woman connected to that massacre is still alive: a mysterious martial arts master who knows a secret she dares not tell, a secret that lives and breathes in the shadows of Chinatown. A secret that may not even be human. Now she’s the target of someone, or something, deeply and relentlessly evil.

Cracking a crime resonating with bone-chilling echoes of an ancient Chinese legend, Rizzoli and Isles must outwit an unseen enemy with centuries of cunning—and a swift, avenging blade. – via Goodreads

GRADE 7Well, rereading this book, I enjoyed it far more than I did the first time. The first time I read it, it was just okay. Now it was actually a fair and decent read. There was a chunk of Chinese culture woven through it, and it was done well for the novel. I feel that the balance between Maura and Jane was not quite equal in this one, what with some serious things happening with Maura, and then having those skipped over for the main story here. It just didn’t flow well, but I was also somewhat relieved that I would not have to read her melodramatic internal thoughts again. Sometimes she is just too much. The last novel worked really well, but sometimes she is just way too whiny. Frost got some more time here, which was great, but I really wish we got more of Gabriel Dean in the stories. He’s an awesome character that I find grossly underused. The Silent Girl touches on quite a few topics, a lot of them serious. Love, family, loyalty, honour, memories, justice, vengeance. Overall, I feel that the themes are balanced quite well, which is lovely. I would loved to have read more about Julian, but alas, this was not the novel for it. I am not a big fan of the chapters that skipped to a first person point of view (Iris Fang’s perspective), it was jarring every single time it flipped back to that, but still. I enjoyed the addition of latest detective, Johnny Tam, and how he reminds Jane so much of herself in her youth, her tenacity and spirit. The plot progressed in a manner that revealed just enough at specific times, and at times, things were a little predictable, whereas others, twists were implemented with finesse. What I really liked about this were the vigilantes that were brought into the story. They were strong characters, though shrouded in shadow and mystery. They had an hononur and integrity (not necessarily mentioned, but the actions told a whole story). This series is well worth a read, ups and downs and all. While not as gripping as the last entry, this is still well worth a look see, with a tight plot that barrels along at the speed of light and characters that have become so familiar to us, The Silent Girl carries itself well.

Review: The Killing Place – Tess Gerritsen

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Rizzoli & Isles #8

SYNOPSIS: In Wyoming for a medical conference, Boston medical examiner Maura Isles joins a group of friends on a spur-of-the-moment ski trip. But when their SUV stalls on a snow-choked mountain road, they’re stranded with no help in sight.

As night falls, the group seeks refuge from the blizzard in the remote village of Kingdom Come, where twelve eerily identical houses stand dark and abandoned. Something terrible has happened in Kingdom Come: Meals sit untouched on tables, cars are still parked in garages. The town’s previous residents seem to have vanished into thin air, but footprints in the snow betray the presence of someone who still lurks in the cold darkness–someone who is watching Maura and her friends.

Days later, Boston homicide detective Jane Rizzoli receives the grim news that Maura’s charred body has been found in a mountain ravine. Shocked and grieving, Jane is determined to learn what happened to her friend. The investigation plunges Jane into the twisted history of Kingdom Come, where a gruesome discovery lies buried beneath the snow. As horrifying revelations come to light, Jane closes in on an enemy both powerful and merciless–and the chilling truth about Maura’s fate. – via Goodreads

GRADE 7.5I really liked the style of writing for The Killing Place, and I was almost convinced I was reading a horror in the sense of how things were happening, the amount of inexplicable things, the remote locations, the lack of reception and terrible weather and most of all, the isolation. Isolation just has a way of making everything creepy as hell. I really enjoyed how this book was a little different, which is something that the Rizzoli and Isles series seems to do rather well. Granted, there are common elements among them all, for sure, but Gerritsen likes to change things up a bit, and this was another one of the novels that does that rather successfully. I got so mad reading about the cult, as there are few things that peeve me as much as that. Ugh. Religious fanatics of any kind are not good at all. Reading about what they wanted from their young “spiritual brides” just made me sick. I mean, people can be so disgusting. I was really thrilled to read more about Gabriel Dean here, you all know I cannot get enough of him, and I really feel that he is underutilised at the best of times. Anthony Sansone made another appearance here, and his character has so much potential, if only Gerritsen would explore him  more. The whole melodramatic thing with Maura is getting old now, like her affair with Daniel and her unhappiness, etc. and I am  hoping that we will move on from that properly soon. I thought Julian “Rat” Perkins was a great character, and I am looking forward to reading more about him. I felt so sorry for him, and I know there is tons of potential. It was definitely a different read, and I enjoyed it well enough, and can recommend it. For those of you who are interested, this books is called Ice Cold in the United States.

Rapid Review: Gone Baby Gone (2007)

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“Kids forgive, they don’t judge, they turn the other cheek, and what do they get for it?”
 – Detective Remy Bressant

SYNOPSIS: Two Boston area detectives investigate a little girl’s kidnapping, which ultimately turns into a crisis both professionally and personally. – via IMDB

gone baby gone working

GRADE 7I recall enjoying this movie quite a bit when it came out a few years ago, and then I read the book by Dennis Lehane and I freaking loved that, though it certainly wasn’t an easy read at all. Naturally I stumbled across this movie and thought now would be a good time to watch it again, and let me tell you, it lost a lot of the magic for me. Not because it wasn’t done well or anything, it just missed a lot of the things that made the book so great. Ben Affleck did a damn fine job directing this, and I think he has some real talent as a director. Casey Aflleck was very good here, though not quite what I pictured Patrick Kenzie to be. While I find that Michelle Monaghan is one of the most beautiful women ever, I honestly think she was a terrible Angie. Why? Angie is this sexy, loud, in-your-face, smart-as-a-whip cussing part-Italian with ties to the Boston mob… and Monaghan was just a little too timid, quiet and mousy for me, which really sucked. Also, Bressant and Poole were underplayed, and I felt the story was far too rushed, skipping out completely on the things that actually gave you chills, and didn’t spend time building on anything. For instance, there is the scene in the bar where it was implied that Angie and Patrick were going to get attacked and Angie raped, and that scene carried no power and no weight. I blame the writers for this, because the movie also had a ridiculously short runtime for what it needed to tell, and so a lot was cut out and discarded along the way, which is a pity. Don’t get me wrong, I know this sounds like I hated it, this is just a typical case of the book is better, infinitely so. The film is entertaining, though it certainly falls short, but it is worth a watch, if for nothing else other than seeing Ben Affleck’s impressive skills as a director.

Review: Darkness, Take My Hand – Dennis Lehane

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Kenzie & Gennaro #2

Private investigators Patrick Kenzie and Angela Gennaro are back when they are called in by Eric Gault, an old teacher of Patrick’s, to help Diandra Warren. She claims that her son, Jason, is being stalked by the Irish mob after she has a girl see her about dating an abusive Kevin Hurlihy and she receives a photograph of Jason and a threat. She feels that he is in danger. It seems like a routine case, and the pair take it up immediately. Angie is still binging after her split from her abusive husband Phil, and Patrick is dealing with the guilt of not being there for Angie enough due to his newly formed relationship with a doctor named Grace. Grace has a daughter, Mae, who adores Patrick and vice versa. He seems to have the perfect relationship and is truly happy.

Nobody seems to be stalking Jared, and after meeting with the Irish mobsters through their contact, Bubba Rogowski, they start to wonder if someone is playing a prank on Diandra Warren. A girl from the neighbourhood, Kara Rider, dies shortly after speaking with Patrick, and before they even know what is going on, there is a body count piling up. The latest death seems to point to an old case from back in the day when Patrick and Angie were kids, and Alex Hardiman was imprisoned for the brutal slayings in the area at the time. Still, Patrick starts to dig, and soon he learns that some of the latest victims’ families received photos like Diandra Warren did, and he and Angie realise too late that Jason was in danger, and he is found murdered.

Torture, dismemberment, murder, mutilation. It seems the way to go for the current serial killer. Devin Amronklin and Oscar Lee of the Boston Police Department calls Patrick and Angie in, they need all the help they can get, and Patrick and Angie keep getting tied back to what is going on. Angie and Phil, too, seem to be spending too much time together, but not so much to reconcile. Angie finally signs her divorce papers, and Phil and Patrick have their first civil conversations in years. From boyhood friends to enemies, the two have a lot to discuss. Patrick, meanwhile, goes to see Alex Hardiman in prison, and soon starts to wonder if there is more going on than he is familiar with, and again the topic is broached as to Hardiman having a partner on the outside. The more digging they do, the more it seems that whatever is going on now is linked up with their own childhoods. Threats against Patrick and Angie start surfacing, and they know that they are in danger, and Patrick starts to really worry about Grace, the first woman he has ever really let into his life, and her daughter.

Who is butchering these people and why? Who was killing the people all those years ago? Does Alex Hardiman have a partner? Is he even involved with what is going on? Can Patrick protect Grace and Mae? Will they be safe? Will Angie ever deal with her divorce from Phil? Will Patrick and Phil manage to stay at this civil place, continue to work through their differences and maybe be friends again? Will Patrick and Angie stop whoever is hunting them before they, too, are dead?

GRADE 8I liked this one. I liked it a lot. It’s no secret that I am a fan of Lehane’s work, not at all, and I thought that his debut novel, A Drink Before The War, was a damn fine first novel. I really liked Patrick and Angie, so I knew I was definitely going to be back for more. Darkness, Take My Hand is so different from its predecessor that it’s scary, and not in a bad way, either, just so we are clear on that front. Initially it took me by surprise a bit that Patrick would be in a serious relationship, though I was not surprised that Angie was on a party mission after splitting from Phil. The case that they got from Diandra Warren started simply enough, and the next thing you know, the story is racing along, mob members are involved (and I do so love reading about the Mafia), an insane serial killer is on the loose, Patrick and Angie are in trouble again, and they are still dealing with the things that came up months before with Marion Socia. Obviously nothing can be easy for them. I had a good few laughs at Angie and her threats in this novel, that woman is badass. The attitudes of her and Patrick were vastly different from the last book in that there were less jokes between them and there seemed to be some distance, too. Angie was putting up a good front but not quite pulling it off, and Patrick was in a really confusing place for him (psychologically, of course) with dating Grace and loving her and her daughter. I loved Bubba making an appearance again. I know he is a total psychopath and all that, but I find him seriously entertaining. Oscar and Devin, too, though totally less psychopathic. I liked the story and I thought the plot sped along nicely and never lost you along the way (always a winner for me), and I thought it was amusing to find a Scorsese reference in here. I can certainly recommend this series wholeheartedly.