I hate flying but from now on whenever I have a big trip coming up I am going to have to make sure that I take a Tess Gerritsen book with me. I had been unsure of which book to read as I flew to and from Switzerland and most of my contenders seemed too heavy (especially as I was on a little bit of vallium) but my latest read in the Jane Rizzoli and Maura Isles novels ‘Vanish’ was absolutely perfect. I always say that a Tess Gerritsen book for me is my favourite ‘Guilty Pleasure’ but actually I am going to remove that tag from her books now as frankly literary or not (dependent on what you believe is and isn’t literature) she writes brilliant books that completely grip me and have me turning pages like crazy.
Vanish is in fact the fifth book in what was the Jane Rizzoli series and then became the Jane Rizzoli and Maura Isle series of crime/thriller novels that Tess Gerritsen has become incredibly famous for. Every single of the previous fur I have absolutely loved and raced through and so each time I open another one I always worry that this will be the one that I don’t like or that isn’t as good as the ones that have gone before it. I needn’t have worried as I was in safe, if gruesome, hands of a master of her work, or is it mistress of her work?
Dr Maura Isles is going about her routine paperwork at the morgue when she hears a noise. Not one for getting the creeps, as she is named ‘Queen of the Dead’, even she is shocked when she checks on the bodies and one of them opens their eyes. The woman is rushed to hospital where she then (and this isn’t spoiling the plot as its in the blurb) kills a guard and takes some of the staff and patients hostage. One such hostage is Detective Jane Rizzoli of homicide who is heavily pregnant. Who is this Jane Doe and what does she want and can Jane survive long enough to find out.
In previous books, as with this one, they are quite gruesome dark and tense. What makes an interesting twist with this book in particular is that Gerritsen decides to throw in some political twists which she hasn’t done so much in the past, had I known this I would possibly have been put off a little as I don’t do politics but Gerritsen makes it compelling reading adding to the suspense and twists which I don’t find many authors manage when they cross over the political thriller with the crime thriller. I can see this book gaining Gerritsen even more fans who may not have tried her before.
Along with all this is the fact that Gerritsen herself is a doctor and so she knows what she is talking about, never for one minute do you feel any of the scenes in the hospitals or morgues are faked, in fact Gerritsen has said that finding non dead people in morgues is more common than you would think which is a bit of a scary thought. Ok so some of the story line means you really have to suspend your belief (in the last one Dr Maura Isles opens up a body bag to see herself in it), but many, many books do that. Her characters though are superb and she does something only a few crime writers do which is get the reader to know the victim, making the death not only shocking tense and chilling but also adding the feeling you know that person makes it all the more horrific to read. I can’t say a bad thing about this book and do you know what… the next book, The Mephisto Club, sounds even better!
It was also perfect after the Orange shortlist (reviews still being sorted for the final two I read… I don’t understand what blogger is playing at) which though a great read and made me read some wonderful books I would otherwise have missed was a bit like an exercise and all too planned. Now before I try and do the Man Booker Long list when its announced I am more than happy to just let my reading whims take me wherever they should lead. Bliss!
I have been lucky enough that the delightful people from New Books Magazine feel they can send me books and the like to review. Sometimes though when a package comes through the door be it from a publisher, a review for a mag, whatever you can inwardly groan. Now had this been Jonathan Ross’s book I would have possibly wept (you have seen the number of books arriving through my doors at the moment) and also I don’t really like him that much. However an audio book I was more than happy with, I could listen to it while I popped round Sainsbury’s and I actually did.
If you are a fan of Jonathan Ross then I won’t need to really sell you this because you will have already bought it or popped it onto your Christmas list. If you aren’t a fan of Jonathan Ross then this could be quite a hard sell and if you aren’t either a fan or foe of Jonathan Ross then it’s not going to matter. I will first of all say that this is not in fact an autobiography which it seems to be being marketed as. It is in fact a ‘selection of memories’ throughout his life.
I have to admit thought I found this puzzling as there wasn’t any order to it. He started of discussing the time that he ‘accidentally date raped himself’ now I know his humour is controversial and crude (especially of late) but this simply wasn’t funny and he didn’t actually make the point of when or how, and to discuss Mexican families he sponsors in the same context I thought was wrong.
I was surprised though as when Ross talks (for it is he who is reading his own work) about his pets that is when you see him at his funniest, and though you wouldn’t think he could shock when it comes to pets you would again be wrong. However it’s when he talks about his pets and the love of them all that you finally sense you are seeing a much truer side of him than you see on the TV and in the media, a much softer side. I found that really interesting and it was these bits more than the random theories on fame or date raping himself that I enjoyed the most.
I think this is also much better in audio format compared to book format. You hear the voice telling the stories that experienced them and he seems much less arrogant and patronising. It also will in places make you really chuckle, one particular story about a kitten made me laugh very loudly in public so that’s a good sign I was enjoying it, and I was… much more than I thought I would.
After a few ropey classics I have decided to start October with one of my favourite authors of the moment Tess Gerritsen. It is great to know in a world filled with so many books and the possibility of so many let downs (and yes so many gems) that you can pick up a book and just know the time will whizz by and you will be hooked and lost in another fictional world.
‘Body Double’ has just done exactly that and I think in all honesty that it’s my favourite of Gerritsen’s books so far and that is saying something. Whereas the previous books have in general focused on Jane Rizzoli this one is much more about ‘Queen of the Dead’ pathologist Maura Isles who has been sneakily becoming a bigger and bigger character in the series as it has gone on. You can read these books in any order; I am just a bit funny about reading things in order. I digress, the story…
Maura Isles has been on holiday after her previous horrific adventure with Jane Rizzoli. When she arrives back from ‘vacation’ she finds the police surrounding her house and a dead woman in a car outside, when she see’s the dead woman she sees herself and they share a birth day and the same blood type. In fact when the DNA tests come in Maura finds that the woman in the car was her twin sister given away when they were both adopted. Maura goes in search of her sisters past and finds it’s full of dark and deadly secrets.
Gerritsen is amazingly clever in firstly coming up with such a clever, warped and dramatic story and secondly in pulling it off. What seems so unlikely is made completely believable once the story of the past of these twin sisters starts to come to light and also it’s incredibly creepy. This is less of a gore fest than its predecessors also and I have to say is slightly better for it, you still get quite a lot of facts and some of them quite squeamish when the autopsies are performed to various cadavers.
Plot is one of the key element, like Christie (but much gorier) the prose is fast and blunt rather than flowery but the plot is tight and you can devour a five hundred page book in one sitting. I am a complete Gerritsen fan, and while I could quite happily move straight onto ‘Vanish’ I have decided to savour the moment and leave off, I don’t want to finish this series before the new one is out do I?
Yes, back to Gerritsen so soon. I was umming and ahhhing what was quick to read before I start on a Nancy Mitford’s ‘The Pursuit of Love’ and also the next Book Group book as I have just over a week and it’s quite a large book. So I went with Gerritsen. ‘The Sinner’ is the third in the Jane Rizzoli series, and the second with Maura Isles as the medical examiner. Would this be as good as the first two? Would I be hooked and unable to put the book down?
The answer to the above is pretty much. In some ways this is better than the previous two in others its not, overall it’s very, very good. Isles and Rizzoli are called to a cloistered convent where one nun has been murdered and another has been left fatally injured. There are no motives and no clues as to why a pair of nuns would be attacked in such a way it’s for Rizzoli and Isles to work out together. Then when another faceless, handless and footless body turns up secrets are revealed and our two leading ladies have to work out the link between her (the Rat Lady) and the two nuns, with many a twist along the way.
I actually like these two leading women. Rizzoli has grown in every novel so far, and though she has quite a secret in store she sadly doesn’t seem to be in the novel so much as before which makes you feel slightly like your not part of the investigation from a coppers side. You are much more involved in the process of autopsy’s as Isles has now gone from being a supporting role to very much a main character role which is great as she is another strong woman with flaws (named Queen of the Dead) in a different way from Rizzoli, also without her the story wouldn’t make sense. Two things I wasn’t sure about with her was that a) she drank sherry when she got home from a long day (sometimes one thing can just make you think ‘she wouldn’t do that though’) b) someone turns up in her life which creates a great back story for her but also is very clichéd in a ‘oh now I think I know what’s coming’ way both disappointed me slightly.
Other than that this is a great crime novel/murder mystery with gore galore. Gerritsen knows her terminology (and I figure once I have caught up with the series so will I) of medicine, autopsy’s and operations. There is a lot less murder and a lot more mystery in this novel which is both good and bad. If you are expecting a book that fits the last twos plot lines and formula, you won’t get quite what you are expecting. But then that’s also a good thing right? I picked up the next one this afternoon, but I am being very good and having a Gerritsen break for a while… well as long as I can manage.
I know some people can be really snobby about books and I know that one author who occasionally has fallen prey to this is Tess Gerritsen; she is seen as the perfect flight read, the perfect holiday read. Or, as my friend Polly thought, ‘the perfect hospital read’ when she bought me The Surgeon a few years ago. Fortunately at that time the nerves pre-op meant that I had not the concentration to read it, as frankly a book about a mad surgeon who goes on a murder rampage might not be the best read when you’re waiting for a date with a scalpel. I did read it in recovery and loved it; it’s a fast and furious book and a definite page turner.
Undecided upon what to read after the epic and confusing God Of Small Things I thought I would turn to Tess for something that ‘thrilled’ me, and she did once again. I was up until 2am simply having to get to the end unable to stop reading.
‘The Apprentice’ takes place a year after ‘The Surgeon’ and said criminal is locked up when similar, but not the same, murders start again in Boston. Detective Jane Rizzoli, who The Surgeon is obsessed with after the previous summers events, is called in to help Detective Korsak before heading up the case herself alongside the FBI who rarely get involved in such cases. Only when The Surgeon escapes and teams up with the new murdered does Rizzoli realise she might just be the next victim.
Tess Gerritsen is making a great heroine in Rizzoli; she’s smart and ballsy but a flawed workaholic who cannot help being the black sheep of the family. She’s believable, which isn’t always the case in this genre of fiction. This book also sees a new female character arrive on the scene Dr Maura Isles (she deals with all the dead bodies) or as she’s called ‘The Queen of The Dead’ who is going to feature future novels that seems like she has hidden depths and a slight dislike of Rizzoli.
The book surpasses The Surgeon (which was great) in gore, thrills, spills, story and character and I think Tess Gerritsen just gets better and better. So forget holiday’s reads and hospital reads just read this you’ll be hooked.
Now bear in mind that I was bought this book by my best friend Polly, as the perfect read for an operation. Funnily enough its not something you would actually want to read before you go under the knife, fortunately my mind couldn’t concentrate on the book what with pre-op nerves. So instead I thought I would read it when I was recovering from being ill, and I am glad I did because I think I would have cancelled my operation.
The Surgeon is my first dabble with Tess Gerritsen, only in the last year or so have I started to read more and more crime novels (it makes sense in a way as I was addicted to Sherlock Holmes in my youth) and hers are renowned for being some of the fastest paced and most gory and in what is a huge market some of the best.
Detective Thomas Moore and his partner Jane Rizzoli are called the investigators of a bout of killings in Boston, all have the same ritualistic acts of torture all are women who were on their own, all are killed in there own houses. It seems a serial killer is on the loose and with the gruesome way in which he kills his victims (think Boston’s very own Jack the Ripper) he is called The Surgeon. To add another twist or two into the works the killer seems to be linked to an old case of which the only surviving victim, medic Catherine Cordell, is now living in… you guessed it Boston. How are they interlinked and how soon until Cordell becomes The Surgeon’s latest victim?
Yes the book is gory, but it isn’t to the point you feel ill, Gerritsen clearly knows her stuff and in some bizarre way I found it quite educational. She also writes great characters Rizzoli, so focused on her job she has sacrificed a life, is smitten with Moore who is in turn smitten with Cordell so we not only have murders we have a complex love triangle. The story is also extremely fast paced, forget the tags of ‘holiday read’ and ‘page turner’ just apply thrilling and entertaining as this book really does have it all. I read it in two sittings I simply couldn’t get enough. My first Gerritsen will definitely not be my last.