Tess Gerritsen

Books: Mystery

Body Double (2004), Vanish (2005)

Body Double (2004)

body_doubleAt some point in the recent past I apparently lost my mind and picked up several mysteries–none of which were the first in the series. However, unlike Dana Stabenow's A Taint in the Blood, I didn't realize for quite awhile there were previous books in the series. I believe this says a great deal about Tess Gerritsen's writing that I picked up the fourth book in the series and was able to follow (and learn about) the characters with no difficulty.

Maura Isles–a medical examiner for for the Boston PD–is disturbed and frightened to discover that a woman dead in front of her house. Her friends and co-workers are also disturbed because the dead woman looks exactly like Dr. Isles, and until she appears alive in and good shape–delayed coming back from a conference in Paris.

Jane Rizzoli is a detective in the Boston police force, and one of the people called to the scene when what is believed to be Maura's body is discovered. Their work often brings Isles and Rizzoli together over cases, and this case is no exception. Maura wants to know who this woman is and both Maura and Jane want to know how she ended up dead in front of Maura's house.

This is a rather complex story, and it's difficult to explain what I enjoyed without giving away too much of the story. The characters are complex and interesting with flaws to keep them human. But in Body Double it is the story that is most compelling. The mystery ranges all over, and every discovery leads you one way and then another as you try to determine who is threatened and who is doing the threatening. Every time I think I figured out one piece, new information is revealed that leads me to doubt my original supposition, and then later along comes something else to lead in back again.

But what I liked the best is that despite the complexity, the story felt real and realistic. Sometimes I find mysteries to be good, but not necessarily believable. This book succeeds on both counts.

So now I want to read more books by Tess Gerritsen, but my mind being the way it is, I don't want to read the older stories, whose plots were hinted at here. Instead I want to move forward to the next book.

I hope it's as good. 

Rating: 8/10

Vanish (2005)

vanishTwo things about Vanish. First, it was good–a well written, well paced story. Second, I didn't like it. No, those two things are not mutually exclusive. I can recognize that something is good without enjoying it, and that was my issue with Vanish. My second major issue is 'What the hell is up with that cover?' Seriously. Talk about having absolutely no bearing on the story. Jeesh.

Maura Isles, Boston medical examiner, discovers that a woman in a body bag at the morgue isn't dead yet. Jane Rizzoli is way past her due date, and ready to have her baby. Unfortunately for her, she ends up in the wrong place at the wrong time, and between the two of them, Jane and Maura uncover a nasty conspiracy that places them–and others–in jeopardy.

So what did I like? The mystery was very well done. There were many twists and turns, and I never was quite sure what was happening until it had happened. I also liked the surprise twists.

However, the story was extremely dark and extremely depressing. Yeah, there was a baby, but it's difficult to take a book about slavery in the 21st century and make it anything other than horrifying.

As good as the mystery was, and as much as I couldn't put the book down, I just wanted it to be over so I could stop reading about all the awful things that happened to Mila.

One other small issue. I got it that Ballentree was suppose to be Halliburton. Really I did. That seemed a bit heavy handed at times. Perhaps it was needed, but that point just felt a little overdone.

If you've read a previous Tess Gerritsen novel, you've probably already read Vanish. If you haven't, you should be able to read Vanish without having read any previous books in the series. 

Rating: 6/10