I Know A Secret by Tess Gerritsen from NetGalley. You love the Rizzoli and Isles series (the books; the TV show never did much for you) and to have the latest book so far ahead of the publication date was like Christmas morning and your birthday all rolled into one. Still, you somehow managed to resist and not read it until late May - inhaling the last half of the book over Memorial Day weekend. You've probably read a few books since then, so what did you think of this one? Let Past Wendy refresh your memory.
Jane Rizzoli and her partner Barry Frost catch the case of a horror movie producer found dead in her Boston apartment. Jane figures it's going to be a weird one the moment she sets foot inside the crime scene. I mean, who chooses the movie poster for Carrie as home decor? But it's when she gets into the victim's bedroom that things really get weird. Cassandra Coyle is dead alright. And the killer decided to scoop out her eyeballs and leave them lying in her open hand.
Meanwhile, medical examiner Maura Isles is dealing with her own creepy - her biological birth mother and convicted murderer, Amalthea Lank. Amalthea has cancer and is dying, but that doesn't mean she's not determined to try and manipulate Maura for old time's sake. Then Jane discovers that her dead horror movie producer may be linked to other homicides and somehow, someway, Amalthea knows something about it all.
This is one of Gerritsen's more straight forward plots. By the halfway point I was thinking, "Ok, where's the twist - you've got to have a twist in here somewhere." Up until that point this story is interesting, a return visit with characters that are like putting on your favorite pair of shoes, and the writing kept me engaged. But I wasn't white-knuckling my way through the reading experience like I did with Die Again (the last book in the series) or Ice Cold (my absolute favorite of the more recent entries). Still, it's a good solid plot and kept me engaged.
What makes Gerritsen such a good suspense writer (I think) is that she got her start in romance. It's the way she crafts her characters and has them orbiting each other that is her strength. We've all read suspense series where it felt like the author got bored with their creations - but I don't feel like that with Rizzoli or Isles. Gerritsen has allowed her characters to change and grow while keeping them true to themselves. Also, it's those teasing glimpses into their personal lives that keep many of us coming back to this series for more.
That being said, this felt like a regressive entry in the series when it comes to The Personal Stuff. Jane, bless her heart, has always been a black and white, good or bad, sort of character. She's not the sort who sees a lot of gray in the world. She spends this book largely frustrated by the people around her. Barry, who is on the verge of taking back the wife who cheated on him. Maura, who can't seem to let Daniel go (ugh!), and her own mother, who has fallen back into a routine now that Jane's father Frank has broken up with The Bimbo. Gerritsen brings the stuff with Jane's parents to a head, although it's far from over. I suspect it'll take a couple more books to fully spin that out. But Maura? Dead Lord. I was SO HAPPY with Ice Cold mostly because the Maura and Daniel "thing" seemed to finally have it's conclusion and here we are....back again. Ugh, ugh, ugh.
Some of this probably reads damning with faint praise, Future Wendy. But you did like this one. And Gerritsen sets herself up well for future books in the series, leaving a believably villainous secondary character twisting out in the breeze. It hasn't been since the first two books in the series that the author gave Jane a carryover villain to struggle over, so it's rather clever really. Warren Hoyt was your textbook serial killer, the bogeyman hiding in your closet. But this new villain? More cerebral. More cunning. The kind of villain that will play mind games with you. Not the sort to physically gut victims, but the kind that will gaslight them until they question whether up really is down. And that's just as terrifying.
Final Grade = B