Review: I Know A Secret – Tess Gerritsen

Rizzoli & Isles #12

I received this in exchange for an honest review. 

SYNOPSIS: The crime scene is unlike any that Detective Rizzoli and medical examiner Maura Isles have ever before encountered. The woman lies in apparently peaceful repose on her bed, and Maura finds no apparent cause of death, but there is no doubt the woman is indeed dead. The victim’s eyes have been removed and placed in the palm of her hand, a gesture that echoes the terrifying films she produces. Is a crazed movie fan reenacting scenes from those disturbing films?

When another victim is found, again with no apparent cause of death, again with a grotesquely staged crime scene, Jane and Maura realize the killer has widened his circle of targets. He’s chosen one particular woman for his next victim, and she knows he’s coming for her next. She’s the only one who can help Jane and Maura catch the killer.

But she knows a secret. And it’s a secret she’ll never tell.  – via Goodreads

As you all probably know, I am a long time reader of Gerritsen’s Rizzoli & Isles series, and I was pretty excited to be granted an advanced copy of the latest novel in this series, and I got to it as soon as possibly. I Know A Secret is a relatively fast read, but this is truly one of the novels in this series I found to be rather flat. Hear me out…

For starters, I Know A Secret never hits the heights you expect it to. It starts off running, but doesn’t ever go anywhere. Some grisly deaths, to be sure, but nothing special, not on the death scene, but the investigation. It just feels like it never goes anywhere, like there are moments it wants to break out and go somewhere, but instead it just gets stuck. All the material comes across as a rehash of sections of the previous novels and offers up nothing new.

There is no real character development here, either. Twelve books down, you would expect some more development coming in, because so many situations have been set up in previous books, and instead all just feels tired. Gerritsen explores nothing new, and instead just falls back into old patterns – Angela leaves Frank (thank goodness), Barry Frost returns to his ex-wife, Alice, and Maura and Daniel run right back into each other’s arms. Just like that, we are back to where we were a couple of books ago – no real growth or change, unfortunately. I thought there would be some major changes, especially with Amalthea Lank passing on. On that note, it also felt like she was forced into this, and I honestly thought she would have more to do with the book, especially after the way the novel opened.

I was quite pleased to read about Gabriel once again, though my (constant) wish is still that he would feature more prominently in the books, he is a great character, and he and Jane work really well together when we go get to read about them. I did like the concept of this book – kids being hunted down and butchered after all being involved in some heavy witch hunt as kids, and one that seems to be rather flimsy as the novel progresses. Holly Devine, too, was a character I never warmed to. She sort of felt like a caricature of a dangerous character, not someone who was actually dangerous. She had the potential to be more, but just like the rest of this novel, she just felt a bit tired

I Know A Secret is not a terrible read, and there were aspects I enjoyed, I just felt that it was quite a flat affair when all was said and done, an idea that never really spread its wings and took flight. It was uninspiring all round, and I am hoping that the next instalment proves to be a worthier addition of the series.

Review: Die Again – Tess Gerritsen

Die-Again-by-Tess-Gerritsen

Rizzoli & Isles #11

SYNOPSIS: Boston Detective Jane Rizzoli is on the case of a big game hunter found dead in his apartment, alone with the body of a beautiful white snow leopard he had recently been commissioned to procure and stuff for a high-profile museum in the area.

Medical examiner Maura Isles connects the case to a number of seemingly unrelated deaths where the victims have all been found hanging upside down, the hallmark of a leopard’s kill.

Rizzoli follows the puzzling trail of clues all the way to Botswana, where she uncovers the unsolved mystery of a deadly camping safari six years prior. When she realizes the two cases are connected, Rizzoli must track down the sole survivor of the tragic trip to discover who – or what – is behind these gruesome deaths. – via Goodreads

GRADE 7Well, I read this the other day when our Beloved ESKOM decided we could do without electricity. Again. For twenty hours. Really. Anyway, I decided to get a move on with this, and it was quite a good pick. I have enjoyed the Rizzoli and Isles series – obviously some more than others. This was well written and the pacing flew along, and I was quite interested, especially seeing as how chunks of the novel took place in various places in Africa, and there were a few South African characters. Now, I would like to give Gerritsen credit for totally nailing the South African “hey”. Americans “like” a lot when they talk, it’s true, and the equivalent here is “hey”. The two separate stories were good, and quite entertaining throughout. I must admit though that Johnny’s character never creeped me out, and hence I never bought into the concept of him hunting down a group of tourists. It just didn’t fit. Plus let us not forget about the ongoing Angela/Frank Rizzoli drama that is going on, and how Angela seems perfectly willing to roll over and be totally submissive to her husband. It actually annoys the heck out of me, so I was none too pleased when this popped up. Again. Other than that, it was a whirlwind whodunnit thriller, though it isn’t rocket science to follow what is going on and guess at who is responsible. Something that did thrill me endlessly was Gabriel Dean featuring more in this book – I absolutely adore this character and always want to read as much about him as possible. I got some of my wish granted here, as he helped Rizzoli out and was a little involved. Could do with more, but I will take what I can get! I found it to be a fast and enjoyable read, and I would recommend it to anyone that enjoys the series. I found that while this one is good and can be read on it’s own, a reader might be best benefited if they have read the first two novels in this series. I don’t have much else to say on this, to be honest, so I will stop here.

Review: Keeping The Dead – Tess Gerritsen

Keeping the dead tess gerritsen

Rizzoli & Isles #7

SYNOPSIS: For untold years, the perfectly preserved mummy had lain forgotten in the dusty basement of Boston’s Crispin Museum. Now its sudden rediscovery by museum staff is both a major coup and an attention-grabbing mystery. Dubbed “Madam X,” the mummy–to all appearances, an ancient Egyptian artifact– seems a ghoulish godsend for the financially struggling institution. But medical examiner Maura Isles soon discovers a macabre message hidden within the corpse–horrifying proof that this “centuries-old” relic is instead a modern-day murder victim.

To Maura and Boston homicide detective Jane Rizzoli, the forensic evidence is unmistakable, its implications terrifying. And when the grisly remains of yet another woman are found in the hidden recesses of the museum, it becomes chillingly clear that a maniac is at large–and is now taunting them.

Archaeologist Josephine Pulcillo’s blood runs cold when the killer’s cryptic missives are discovered, and her darkest dread becomes real when the carefully preserved corpse of yet a third victim is left in her car like a gruesome offering–or perhaps a ghastly promise of what’s to come.

The twisted killer’s familiarity with post-mortem rituals suggests to Maura and Jane that he may have scientific expertise in common with Josephine. Only Josephine knows that her stalker shares a knowledge even more personally terrifying: details of a dark secret she had thought forever buried.

Now Maura must summon her own dusty knowledge of ancient death traditions to unravel his twisted endgame. And when Josephine vanishes, Maura and Jane have precious little time to derail the Archaeology Killer before he adds another chilling piece to his monstrous collection. – via Goodreads

GRADE 7Keeping The Dead was quite a fast paced, interesting read. It had eventful turns and twists, not always revolutionary, but put together well. I also liked the archaeological/Egyptian aspect to the book, as I have always been fascinated by these things. Each of the characters have some extreme personal issues raging, and each one of them is dealing in another way. It was nice for Barry Frost to get some more attention in this book as I find he is always a sturdy character that is somewhat overused. Naturally, there is Maura Isles and her tawdry love life, too, that is actually getting rather annoying, that she is portrayed as this strong woman and all that, but she is always up to silly shenanigans in her own time. Gerritsen also never really healed the rift between Jane and Maura in the last novel, and yet here they are perfectly fine again. Also, Gabriel only got about two lines in this book, which broke my heart. He really needs to be used more, and not as a tool from time to time to remind us that Jane is married and has a child. Anthony Sansone made an appearance again, but his “supernatural” claims just didn’t really sit well in this novel, though he is so interesting and definitely a character that I want more off. Gerritsen has certainly fallen into a great rhythm with the Rizzoli and Isles series, and I am always interested in reading more of them. Granted, not all the books are equal, but they are engaging, which is important in a book series. Keeping The Dead may have started a bit scattered, but the momentum built and ultimately came together quite nicely. The relationship dynamics between the characters are becoming far more convincing and makes for a more gripping novel. This was another solid entry to the series. For those who are interested, this book is also called The Keepsake.

Review: The Mephisto Club – Tess Gerritsen

mephisto-club cover tess gerritsen

Rizzoli & Isles #6

SYNOPSIS: PECCAVI
The Latin word is scrawled in blood at the scene of a young woman’s brutal murder: I HAVE SINNED. It’s a chilling Christmas greeting for Boston medical examiner Maura Isles and Detective Jane Rizzoli, who swiftly link the victim to controversial celebrity psychiatrist Joyce O’Donnell, Jane’s professional nemesis and member of a sinister cabal called the Mephisto Club.

On top of Beacon Hill, the club’s acolytes devote themselves to the analysis of evil: Can it be explained by science? Does it have a physical presence? Do demons walk the earth? Drawing on a wealth of dark historical data and mysterious religious symbolism, the Mephisto scholars aim to prove a startling theory: that Satan himself exists among us.

With the grisly appearance of a corpse on their doorstep, it’s clear that someone or something is indeed prowling the city. The members of the club begin to fear the very subject of their study. Could this maniacal killer be one of their own or have they inadvertently summoned an evil entity from the darkness?

Delving deep into the most baffling and unusual case of their careers, Maura and Jane embark on a terrifying journey to the very heart of evil, where they encounter a malevolent foe more dangerous than any they have ever faced . . . one whose work is only just beginning. – via Goodreads

GRADE 8.5The Mephisto Club is excellently written, and definitely my favourite in the series (and I read up until the last book or two, I must still catch up with those). There were times where I thought she was repeating things too often, but that didn’t detract from the story overall. The deaths were described as grisly, but Gerritsen never really went into too much detail. This made the murders important, but the focus lay in other areas of investigation, such as the importance of symbols. I found it a little annoying how, at the best of times, it sounded condescending that certain people didn’t know certain things, or how some pretty basic things (like inverted crosses, really now, 99.9% of people jump to a satanic conclusion, and they are all “investigating”, standing there wondering what the hell the markings were?!) were somehow not regular knowledge, which was a little difficult to swallow. I think if it was handled a little differently, it would have been different. Rizzoli is dealing with some serious home problems in this book, which occasionally threaten to spill into her job, although it did provide me with plenty entertainment. Maura has finally crossed that line with Father Daniel Brophy, something that was set up so many books ago and was inevitably going to happen. Maura, in her personal life, is such a weak character actually, which is a pity. When it comes to work, she is strong, bold, and yet in her personal life she is desperate for love, attention and approval from someone else, and it would be just like her to take it from a forbidden source. Joyce O’Donnell is back in this book, and is as unlikable a snake as ever. Ugh, that woman is like… evil that feeds on other people’s evil because she can’t necessarily do something terrible herself, but gets off on evil people sharing their nasty experiences in extreme detail with her. The Mephisto Foundation was very interesting, bringing in some fresh characters and a new outlook on things. While they harp on religion and the supernatural, the foundation was fascinating and its members highly intellectual, though they sounded like lunatics to anyone with too rational a mind. Anthony Sansone is a character with much potential. He is interesting and annoying in equal measure, which is a fine line for Gerritsen to balance, so let’s see how that goes. I honestly wish that Gabriel Dean had gotten some more time in this book, as he is a character I absolutely adore, but no such luck for me. It would seem t hat Vanish was his moment of glory, and now he has been relegated to father and husband who occasionally makes an appearance. The Mephisto Club is fast paced, highly intelligent, gripping and a truly great read that I would highly recommend.

Review: Vanish – Tess Gerritsen

Rizzoli & Isles #5

SYNOPSIS: A nameless, beautiful woman appears to be just another corpse in the morgue. An apparent suicide, she lies on a gurney, awaiting the dissecting scalpel of medical examiner Maura Isles. But when Maura unzips the body bag and looks down at the body, she gets the fright of her life. The corpse opens its eyes.

Very much alive, the woman is rushed to the hospital, where with shockingly cool precision, she murders a security guard and seizes hostages . . . one of them a pregnant patient, Jane Rizzoli.

Who is this violent, desperate soul, and what does she want? As the tense hours tick by, Maura joins forces with Jane’s husband, FBI agent Gabriel Dean, to track down the mysterious killer’s identity. When federal agents suddenly appear on the scene, Maura and Gabriel realize that they are dealing with a case that goes far deeper than just an ordinary hostage crisis.

Only Jane, trapped with the armed madwoman, holds the key to the mystery. And only she can solve it–if she survives the night. – via Goodreads

GRADE 7.5I must admit, this was infinitely better than that melodramatic Body Double that I read last. I was no fan of that, and you always worry the events of that book would spill over and infect the next one. Luckily for me though, this was not the case. Jane and Gabriel are married, doing alright, and she is literally almost about to pop out her baby. You wonder how this is all going to come together, I mean she is about to have a baby, what kind of case will Gerritsen get to pull this together? But she does, and in an exceptionally entertaining fashion, too. The whole kidnapping/hostage thing gave rise to an interesting and very sad story, to look at how these poor girls got forced into a life they do not want. The story flips between Jane in hostage crisis to her friends and family in the outside, desperate to figure out what is going on, and then to the perspective of a young Russian girl who has been forced into prostitution in a foreign country. Gabriel is also a character that I thoroughly enjoy, so I was pleased as punch for him to feature more prominently in Vanish, anything to read more than a few stray lines about him, he is fascinating! The story is very engaging, and catches you quite early and reels you in. The characters are more entertaining, and there isn’t so much of that exceptional melodrama from the last one (thank goodness). I know I harp on that point, but sheesh. It was enough to put me off of reading more in this series. Vanish is a fast read, and Gerritsen explores a dark, nasty side of people and human trafficking, painting enough to horrify you, but not going that far into things to just be gratuitously disgusting, which is a good balance. I can’t say too much about this book, in fear of spoilers, but I can say that this book is well worth the read.

Review: The Sinner – Tess Gerritsen

the sinner

Rizzoli & Isles #3

SYNOPSIS: Within the walls of a cloistered convent, a scene of unspeakable carnage is discovered. On the snow lie two nuns, one dead, one critically injured – victims of a seemingly motiveless, brutally savage attack.

Medical examiner Maura Isles’ autopsy of the murder victim yields a shocking surprise, but the case takes a disturbing twist. The body of another woman has been found. And someone has gone to a lot trouble to remove her face, hands and feet.

As long buried secrets are revealed so Dr Isles and homicide detective Jane Rizzoli, find themselves part of an investigation that leads to an awful, dawning realisation of the killer’s identity… – via Goodreads

GRADE 7.5I have thoroughly been enjoying re-reading these books, though something I must admit is that they won’t necessarily linger too long after the fact. Some, obviously, have better and more memorable stories than others, and while I enjoyed this one, I could barely remember anything about it (which can also be nice in terms of a re-read). The book flows pretty nicely, and this one focused on finally giving us more on Dr Maura Isles, though it did not leave Jane Rizzoli forgotten. If anything, this book is the one that makes them bot more human and identifiable. Rizzoli is struggling with her difficult romance with Gabriel Dean, as well as the knowledge that she is pregnant and has no idea what she is going to do about it. Maura is completely caught up in her whirlwind realisation that she is lonely and cut off from the living and spends far too much time with the dead, and while she is dealing with all this, her ex-husband Victor turns up in town. Maura has always been presented as cold and cut off, so it is nice to get a little of the inside track on her to get a better understanding of how and why she does things. A friendship has also started to develop between Maura and Rizzoli, which is also quite nice and it hasn’t been forced, also something that counts in its favour. Something to note, though, the concept of religion and death is seriously hammered on in this book, which at times grates a little bit and might really annoy some, but most of the time you get past it pretty quickly. The plot itself is alright and is paced fine, but sometimes there are things that niggle at you about it, but no deal-breaker at any rate – it just jumped around a bit, but it was never actually bland. The Sinner is also most certainly different from the last two books in both tone and pace, but I found that it worked. I liked getting a better look at Jane’s family, as we have heard nothing but how horrible it is for Jane to visit with them and spend time, but Angela certainly let Jane in on a few secrets that really makes you view the woman differently. Overall, well worth the read, though this is a book certainly more for the characters than the plot and is not one that is going to stay with you for very long after.

Review: The Apprentice – Tess Gerritsen

the apprentice cover

Rizzoli & Isles #2

A year after the close of the Surgeon case, Detective Jane Rizzoli is haunted by the events of the previous summer,  yet still doing her best to work her job. She is a changed woman though, anyone could tell you that. While dealing with her near-death experience and the fact that her partner, Thomas Moore, married Catherine Cordell, the Surgeon Warren Hoyt’s obsession, she gets called out to an investigation which chills her to the bone. Detective Vince Korsak calls her in for input because someone is using the Surgeon’s signature and the crime scenes look eerily familiar yet with minor differences. Dr Maura Isles informs the police of a grisly turn of events in the case: necrophilia.

The FBI is called in, complicating the investigation intensely as everyone is playing cloak and dagger, smoke and mirrors. The latest killer on the loose is soon coined the Dominator due to the nature of his crimes. Attacking couples, horrific murders, teacups as warning systems while he forces the husband to watch the total desecration of his wife in front of him before being killed and the wife being taken. The situation becomes extremely aggravated when the Surgeon makes his grand escape after reading about the Dominator’s work in the papers. His long lost brother has been found, as he thinks, and a bloody plot of revenge to trap Rizzoli develops. Rizzoli is terrified but refuses to let the world see it, and her fights with FBI agent Gabriel Dean ratchet up.

After Dean apparently steps off the case, Rizzoli gets called off to Washington, where more past crimes are laid bare for her, and the case runs far deeper than even she initially suspected. She knew Dean had been witholding information from her, but the magnitude is shocking. Warren Hoyt is missing, and unknown subject is hunting and butchering couples, and there are absolutely no leads. The Dominator and the Surgeon are cut from the same cloth, and working together they will be unstoppable, something that certainly cannot happen. On top of all of this, it occurs to Rizzoli that they still might come after her, and fighting off two will be an impossibility. 

Will the serial killers come for Rizzoli? Will they ever catch up with Warren Hoyt and put him back where he belongs? Do the Dominator and the Surgeon identify with one another, and will they be a terrifying force to be reckoned with? What is Dean’s involvement with all of this?

GRADE 7.5I must say that I enjoyed The Apprentice. I thought that it was a step up a little from the last book in the way that Rizzoli certainly developed more as a character, and you don’t dislike her as much as you did. She has been broken, but I don’t really look at her as a victim, because she refuses to acknowledge that and rails against it constantly. Dr Maura Isles is a welcome addition of a character, and I liked her calm and cool attitude, though I do wish she had been included more. Then again, this is a simple introduction, and one that is subtle enough to work. I really liked Dean’s character, attitude and all, and I was really happy that Rizzoli eventually let herself be seen as a woman, too, and not just the cop. The passages about Hoyt were eerily similar to those from The Surgeon, but when you consider how closely linked these two are, it works. There were certainly changes from the last one, but much was the same. It worked, though, so I have no real complaints there. What I did have issues with is how some things were introduced and then fell away later on, got overlooked and forgotten (and here is specifically referencing the case she was called out on with the airplane man). Also, I felt that the conclusion, even though it was a triumph, was a little rushed and came to a screeching halt. It isn’t the worst thing. There was significantly more character growth in this one for Rizzoli, and I like the direction the books are headed in.

Review: Last to Die – Tess Gerritsen

last to die cover

Rizzoli & Isles #10

Here we are, my fifth book for the fifty book challenge. The encouragement knowing I have a total to work toward is very satisfying. This is also the tenth book in the Rizzoli & Isles series that I have been reading and reviewing.

Detective Jane Rizzoli is called in on her day off. Everybody has been called in, and Jane can only assume the worst. Arriving at a house, she is walked through a butchered foster family, and a surviving child, Teddy Clock, who managed to make it out. This is the second time he has made it out by the skin of his teeth. Two years prior to his foster family being wiped out, his actual family was murdered. She needs to make progress with him to see if there is any way that they can tie it all together.

Dr Maura Isles goes to Evensong to visit with Julian “Rat” Perkins, and is shocked by how truly isolated the school really is. Anthony Sansone owns and runs the place, but seems rather off with her, and it throws her somewhat. While there, Maura meets some other students, and her skin crawls when she realizes that all the students are what the board calls “survivors”. All victims of violence and brutality, they are the ones that made it out. Things worsen when she establishes that there are another two children in Evensong that had their biological families killed two years ago withing the same week, as well as their foster families now recently, both kids surviving both ordeals narrowly. Claire Ward is an oddball, and Will Yablonski a geek. Maura contacts Jane to inform her of the development, and Jane takes it upon herself to visit Teddy again. When there, an intruder breaks into the home and Jane is sure that Teddy was the target again. She calls Maura, and whatever Maura’s misgivings are about the school, she insists Jane bring him there to her after she hears of the second attack.

Maura and Jane need to establish what is going on and how these kids are involved and quickly link them together. Evensong may be a safe school, a type of fortress even, but it also makes the women think of sitting ducks, and the feeling is not assuaged when the school psychologist, Dr Welliver, takes a swan dive off the top of the building. Time starts ticking by too fast and too slow all at once, and Jane needs to find a way to investigate this. Lieutenant Marquette gives her a little leeway to find out what is going on when detective Darren Crowe closes the case of Teddy’s foster family’s slaying overly quickly. Bringing in her partner Barry Frost is all Jane asks for, and together they start hunting down answers that seem impossible to render complete.

GRADE 6.5The story was gripping in a way, but did not draw me all the way in. The writing was tight and neat and the story flowed effortlessly. However, I was expecting the plot twist to be far bigger than it actually was in the end, so I felt a little let down. I am glad that Jane and Maura finally sorted their differences out for the better part, and Anthony Sansone’s character was so different from usual in this book. Julian is doing so well, which is great, and it is awesome that Tess Gerritsen keeps that story nourished and on the go. The drama in the Rizolli family is reaching new level of crazy, and the more I read about it, the more I dislike her father, Frank Sr, and brother, Frankie Jr. What chops. Overall, a decent addition to the series,  but not one hundred percent what I was expecting to read.