Get Blog Posts Via Email

View RSS Feed


Book Author: Tess Gerritsen

THE SPY COAST by Tess Gerritsen: Book Review

Purity, Maine, is the small town that former CIA agent Maggie Bird has moved to, consciously because she has several friends there, and perhaps unconsciously because of its name.  Above all Maggie desires peace and safety, and for two years she’s relished having both in her new home.  Then comes a figure out of her past that changes everything.

Maggie finds out from her neighbor’s granddaughter that a woman had been in town the day before, asking for the owner of Blackberry Farm.  Although the woman hadn’t mentioned Maggie by name, she’s given directions to the farm, and the following day Maggie, returning from her errands, gets an alert on her phone that her home’s security has been breached.

When Maggie enters her kitchen, she sees a young woman who is calmly pulling out a chair and making herself  comfortable, not at all frightened by the gun pointing at her.  She calls herself Bianca, although Maggie doubts that’s her real name, and she tells Maggie that she needs her help in find another former CIA agent, Diana Ward.  Diana has “dropped off the radar,” last seen a few days earlier in Thailand.

Diana and Maggie were two of the people involved in Operation Cyrano sixteen years earlier, an episode that did not end well for a number of people, including Maggie.  When Bianca persists in her efforts to get her to join the search for the missing woman, that she may be in trouble, Maggie is unmoved.  Thinking of the history she and Diana shared during Cyrano, Maggie tells her visitor, “I don’t give a ____ what happens to her,” and closes the door in Bianca’s face.

When Maggie goes to a meeting of her bookclub/Martini Club that night with her friends who were also agents or otherwise involved with the Agency, she learns that they all know about her visitor.  Ben Diamond and Declan Rose are unapologetic about sharing the news with Ingrid and Lloyd Slocum, with Ben saying to Maggie, “I felt they needed to know. When an outsider shows up in our little town, it causes ripples.”

The five have just finished drinks and dinner but haven’t begun to discuss the book chosen for that month when Maggie’s cell phone rings.  It’s her neighbor, who tells her something is going on at her house.  When she arrives home, she sees Purity’s two patrol cars, three police officers, and Bianca’s dead body in her driveway.

To acting police chief Jo Thibodeau, Maggie is taking the discovery of a tortured and shot woman outside her home much too calmly.  Maggie’s excellent security system and the fact that four Purity residents can vouch for her presence during the time the murder was committed doesn’t give Jo any reason to suspect Maggie of the crime.  Still, she wonders, how can this middle-aged woman take this horrendous event without any apparent alarm?

Then it’s up to Maggie, with a little help from her friends, to go back sixteen years to discover why Bianca was sent to Purity and what that means for the owner of Blackberry Farm.

Master storyteller Tess Gerritsen has written an excellent thriller, with a captivating protagonist and cast of characters.  You can read more about her at this site.

Check out the complete Marilyn’s Mystery Reads at her website.  In addition to book review posts, there are sections featuring Golden OldiesPast Masters and Mistresses, and an About Marilyn column that features her opinions about everything to do with mystery novels.

DIE AGAIN by Tess Gerritsen: Book Review

The powerful Boston team of Rizzoli and Isles is back, working on a murder that spans two continents.  Jane Rizzoli, police detective, and Maura Isles, medical examiner, are brought into a case that seems bizarre from the beginning, but they have no idea of just how strange it’s going to get.

Die Again opens with a safari in Botswana, consisting of a party of three men and four women plus their tracker and guide.  This section of the novel is told by Millie Jacobson, the girlfriend of Richard Renwick, a well-known British novelist.  It was Richard’s idea to go on a safari, the better to write another of his macho adventure books.

Millie has reluctantly come along, but she’s not enjoying herself; her idea of a vacation runs to hotels and spas, not flimsy tents and outdoor “bathrooms.”  But Richard and the others are enjoying themselves until the morning that the remains of their South African guide are found.  He had been killed and eaten, probably by hyenas.

Back in Boston, Jane and her partner Barry Frost are called to the home of an internationally known hunter and taxidermist, Leon Gott.  Surrounded by the many animals he shot and mounted on his walls, Leon’s body is found hanging upside down, his insides removed.  Not a view for the faint of heart.

When Dr. Maura Isles arrives, one look at the eviscerated body tells her something is seriously wrong besides the obvious fact that Leon is dead.  Searching the garage she finds remains, including two hearts (one human, one animal) and two complete sets of lungs.  Leon had received threats in the past, but those had been verbal, never physical.  His wife and only son were dead, and he wasn’t close to any of his neighbors, so no one seems to have a clue what brought about his brutal death.

In addition to working on Leon’s murder, Jane also is trying to help her mother get through a difficult time.  Several years earlier, Jane’s father left his wife for another woman.  Some time later, Jane’s mother fell in love with another man, and they got engaged.  Now her husband wants to return home and let bygones be bygones.  Jane’s brothers are in favor of this and want their parents to reconcile.  It’s obvious to Jane that her mother is very unhappy with the situation, but she’s having a hard time going against her husband and their sons.

Maura is still reeling from the end of her romance with Daniel Brophy, a Catholic priest.  Even though Maura knew that their relationship couldn’t end well, she continues to mourn the loss of the man she loves.

Tess Gerritsen has written another spellbinding novel.  Readers of previous novels in the series and viewers of the television show, now in its sixth season, will want to read Die Again to see Rizzoli and Isles together once more.

You can read more about Tess Gerritsen at this web site.

Check out the complete Marilyn’s Mystery Reads at her web site.



ICE COLD by Tess Gerritsen: Book Review

Dr. Maura Isles is in hot water again. Or, perhaps it would be more accurate to say the hot water she’s in is located in the frigid Wyoming wilderness.

Ice Cold opens with a portrait of Kingdom Come, a religious community with a charismatic leader.  The village that the members of Jeremiah Goode’s church have carved out of the barren land is basically self-sufficient and closed to the surrounding cities and towns.  There’s no electricity, no running water in Kingdom Come, but there is one huge benefit, at least for the leader and the other men–polygamous marriages to young girls. And thirteen-year-old Katie Sheldon is one of those unwilling brides, forced down the aisle by the tight grip of her father to marry the reverend.

Maura, the Boston medical examiner who is a cool customer at all times, is definitely out of her big city element in Jackson Hole, Wyoming where she has gone to attend a conference.  She’s also still recovering from leaving her secret lover, Father Daniel Brophy. Maura and Daniel have been lovers for more than a year, and Daniel’s inability to choose between his two loves–his church and Maura–seems to have brought Maura to a crisis point.  Can she/they continue this way, or must Daniel at last make a choice?

At the conference Maura meets a former college classmate.  Doug Comley is attending the conference with two friends and his teenage daughter, and he persuades the not-very-spontaneous Maura to go with them on an overnight cross-country skiing trip.  Following his car’s GPS, the group becomes stranded on an icy, snowbound road with no habitation in sight.  Then they see a sign in the snow–Private Road, Residents Only, Area Patrolled–and realize they have chanced upon Kingdom Come, a name they’d only just heard from a local storekeeper.

When they finally make their way down to the village, it’s deserted.  The houses are empty of people, but there are cars in the garages and food on the tables.  What could have happened to make the inhabitants flee their homes, leaving pets behind to die, and simply disappear?

Back in Boston, Father Daniel is worried because he hasn’t heard from Maura and she didn’t catch her flight home.  The ever reliable doctor would never behave like this, he’s sure.  And now even her friend Detective Jane Rizzoli of the Boston Police Department and Jane’s husband, FBI agent Gabriel Dean, acknowledge that something is seriously wrong.

Tess Gerritsen, herself a physician, has created a very strong character in Dr. Maura Isles. In this, the eighth book featuring the medical examiner, Maura has reached a midlife crisis of sorts.  That’s one of the reasons she decides to do something out of the ordinary with her former college friend, a decision that nearly leads to her death.  By the end of the novel, the doctor has escaped death more than once and owes her life to a very unlikely duo.

You can read more about Tess Gerritsen at her web site .