So I finished The Mephisto Club by Tess Gerritsen over the weekend. I'm not sure I can avoid spoilers, but for the sake of my sisters (who will both be reading this one), I'll be as vague as humanly possible. Also, I'm going to try a new review format - one I'm sure I've seen around the blogosphere somewhere.
The Basics - Book 6 in the author's suspense series featuring Boston detective, Jane Rizzoli, and medical examiner, Dr. Maura Isles.
The Plot - Peccavi. Latin for "I have sinned." It's this chilling word, along with three upside down crosses written in the victim's blood that Jane finds scrawled at a Christmas Eve crime scene. If that weren't enough to tell her that the perp is seriously whacked out, the victim's severed head staring back at her from the kitchen floor surely does.
The Good - The mystery here is very good and the crime scenes suitably grisly. I like a good, gory read and this one delivers. Also, I enjoyed the sub plot involving Jane's parents. The boisterous Rizzoli clan always makes an appearance in every book, which I normally can take or leave. But this time, Mama Rizzoli is pissed off - and frankly as a long time fan of the series, I enjoyed her liberation immensely.
The Bad - The actual Mephisto Club. The satanic symbolism and subsequent killing rampage bring Jane into contact with The Mephisto Club and their leader, who got on my last good nerve. These are idiots with too much time and money on their hands, who believe that actual demons walk amongst us - and they're out to prove it. It's never explained with much satisfaction, but the leader has enough power and influence that he runs roughshod over the investigation for the whole blessed book. Frankly I kept waiting for Jane to punch him in the face. Unfortunately she never does.
Also, this book doesn't stand alone very well. Non-fans can still enjoy it me thinks, but they won't get nearly as much out of it (my ever so humble opinion).
The Ugly - What the F is up with Maura? I actually used to prefer her over Jane, but Gerritsen is taking her character into territory that just irritates the heck out of me. Originally written as calm, cool, collected and very smart - she's been reduced to a series of bad relationship decisions over the last several books. This time out she makes the Grand Daddy Of All Relationship Mistakes, falling in love with a man who is extremely unattainable.
Yeah, I know smart women make bad choices every day - and I know she's lonely, but given the technological advances in battery operated boyfriends over the years, the Maura character should be smart enough to know that being single is not the end of the world. But that's just me.
This development also reminds me of Patricia Cornwell's Kay Scarpetta series. I used to love the Marino character but over the years the author has neutered him to the point that he's a mere shadow of his former, fascinating self. But that's a whole other rant entirely.
As for Maura - I can see the road ahead and I am not happy.
The Verdict - A totally mixed bag, especially since it appears we haven't seen the last of irritating Mephisto Club. I suspect Gerritsen is going to keep the ring leader around to serve as an added romantic complication for Maura. Just shoot me already. Final Grade = C+