Friday, October 3, 2008

Return To Form

The last book in Tess Gerritsen's Jane Rizzoli/Maura Isles series I flat-out loved was number four, Body Double. Vanish was "ok," and The Mephisto Club largely annoyed the crap out of me. However it takes a whole lot for me to stop reading mystery series (I might stop buying, but work continues to feed these unhealthy relationships), and one book annoying me wasn't enough to drop Gerritsen off my autobuy list. Good thing too, because I think The Keepsake is a marvelous return to form.

Medical Examiner, Dr. Maura Isles has been invited to witness a CT scan on a mummy recently found at the Crispin Museum. The curator of the museum found the mummy while taking inventory. Unfortunately he couldn't find any records on it. His predecessor was an old man, becoming crippled by Alzheimer's, so the museum's records are in chaos. Still, a mummy is a mummy - and would be a big boon for the struggling museum. So imagine everyone's surprise when the CT scan turns up dental fillings and a bullet wound. Their 2000 year old mummy is a modern day murder victim.

Which brings in Boston homicide detective Jane Rizzoli and her partner, Barry Frost, who muses that they "catch all the weird ones." Jane's investigation leads to her spidey sense telling her that the museum's Egypt expert, Dr. Josephine Pulcillo is hiding something. She's naturally right, because it soon becomes apparent that their killer is infatuated with the young doctor.

What I enjoy so much about Gerritsen's series is that she has a large cast of characters and isn't afraid to do some exploring. This time out of the gate, readers get to know more about Barry Frost, the Boy Scout who has been Jane's partner for years. Maura plays more of a periphery role in this story, although the author seems to be setting up the "breaking point" for the disastrous romantic relationship she began in The Mephisto Club. What is it with smart women falling for unattainable men?

Both of my sisters will be very happy to note that this is a very strong Jane book. I think Gerritsen has softened her over the years (motherhood and marriage will do that to some women), but she's still determined and smart as a whip. In fact, she's the smartest person in the room for pretty much the entire story. There's less Rizzoli family "stuff" in this entry. Her erstwhile father is completely off the page, and her mama makes only a brief appearance during a particularly well done family barbecue scene.

The mystery here is compelling. The killer takes women, murders them, and turns them into "keepsakes." The mummy being the first one they uncover, but more emerge, preserved by various means. Creepy, creepy stuff. The suspense winds and twists, getting more involved towards the end. However, Gerritsen ties up every single loose end when it comes to the mystery and all my questions were answered. Unanswered questions regarding Maura's personal life still abound, but I fully expect it to be fodder for later books.

All in all, I really enjoyed this entry of the series immensely. I think newcomers could easily pick this up and not feel lost - although Gerritsen employs The Onion Method of series character development. The author has slowly been peeling back the layers of her characters since the first book, with each layer standing as it's own time capsule, but to get the full picture, it helps to have read them all. Heck, which you'll want to do anyway because there are some real dynamite installments.

Final Grade = B+


Rosie said...

It's great when a book delivers exactly what you're looking for isn't it?

Nicole said...

I really enjoyed this one. It made my anthropology/archaeology love go all happy.

Cathy in AK said...

Body Double was great. I haven't read Vanished yet (I skipped over it because it's been checked out every time I go to the library and I forget to put my name on the list). The Mephisto Club was annoying because I thought Jane would have been a bit more "Get the f-- off my case, you crazies" and Maura less, I dunno, distracted?

I felt a little baited and switched with Bone Garden, thinking, at first, it was another Jane and Maura story, but overall I liked the book.

I can't wait to read The Keepsake and appreciate the lack of spoilers : )

Wendy said...

Rosie: Yeah, this one really hit the spot.

Nicole: I've never been a huge archaeology buff - but I found it fascinating in this story.

Cathy: LOL - that's how I felt about The Mephisto Club too! I wanted Maura to be smarter and Jane to be bitchier ;-)

You really need to go back and read Vanish! You get some insight into Jane's marriage, plus that's the book where Jane becomes a mommy.

I always shoot for spoiler free reviews. The only time I like to read spoilers is when I have no plans to read the actual book LOL

Lil Sis said...

Yeah more Jane! I'm waiting by my mailbox - nothing yet. :(