Review – Die Again by Tess Gerritsen

By | January 21, 2015

In Boston, Detective Jane Rizzoli and Forensic Pathologist Maura Isles are investigating a bizarre murder. A man has been found gutted and hanging in his home. When the remains of another victim are found, it is clear that this murderer has been at work for years, and not just in Boston.

Six years ago, a group of travellers set off on an African safari. None of them are seen again – apart from one woman who stumbled out of the bush weeks later, barely alive. The only woman to have seen the killer’s face.

Has the ‘safari killer’ resurfaced in Boston? Jane is sent to Africa to find the one link between the two cases – the only survivor – and convince her to face death once again…

It’s a very long time since I last read a book by Tess Gerritsen. But I still remember being totally gripped by the early books in her Rizzoli and Isles series – everyone who loves an edge-of-the-seat thriller should (must!) read The Surgeon and The Apprentice, and the whole series was must-read for me until something went a little wrong with Ice Cold (also released as The Killing Place). I did stick with the series – her writing is consistently excellent, and I like the main characters a great deal better than those in the TV series based on the books. But, after a bit of a break and given the number of excellent new writers producing books along similar lines, I wondered if Tess Gerritsen’s books would have kept their magic for me. The answer, I’m pleased to report, is a resounding “yes” – I read this book in one sitting, and loved every moment.

When the book opens, joining a diverse group of people on safari in Botswana, I wondered at first if I was reading the right book. But stick with it – you’re soon back in Boston with Jane Rizzoli investigating the gruesome death of a famous taxidermist, and Maura Isles joins her for the post mortem. The murders come thick and fast, with the team struggling – by deduction and forensic examination – to identify a link between the victims. Meanwhile, the Botswana thread continues – a writer of men’s adventure books and his wife, a Japanese couple, two young girls and a man met in a bar, the guide and the spotter – and turns into a story of survival in the most extreme of environments. The stories draw together, with the help of death in a zoo big cat enclosure and a snow leopard pelt – and we see Jane and husband FBI agent Gabriel travelling to Africa to continue their investigation. The whole book is absolutely engrossing – a fantastic story, full of twists and turns and false leads, and the outcome is a genuine surprise although all the clues are there.

In addition to the excellent story, there are other things I love about Tess Gerritsen. Her characters are drawn so well – we already know Maura and Jane well, and it really does help if you’ve read the other books, otherwise some of the references to past cases and attachments will pass you by. But there are other strong characters too – Johnny Posthumus the safari guide, Molly the author’s wife, Jane’s work partner Frost with his softer side, the other investigating team with its camera-ready leader and quiet industrious sidekick. Her research and descriptive powers are superb – you feel the chill as the cougar watches Maura from a neighbouring enclosure, feel the mosquitos and fear as the last survivor from the safari struggles to stay alive. The descriptions of the murder scenes and the ensuing investigation are pretty graphic too – this isn’t a book for the faint-hearted. But there are light moments too – one wonderful one involving a cat and a box.

With so many thrillers around these days, psychological or otherwise, it’s easy to forget those authors who’ve been doing it so well for a long time. That would be a big mistake – Tess Gerritsen most definitely still has her magic touch.

Die Again (the 11th book in the Rizzoli and Isles series) was published by Bantam Press (Transworld) on 1 January. My thanks to netgalley and the publishers for my advance reading e-copy.

Bestselling author Tess Gerritsen is also a physician, and she brings to her novels her first-hand knowledge of emergency and autopsy rooms. But her interests span far more than medical topics. As an anthropology student at Stanford University, she catalogued centuries-old human remains, and she continues to travel the world driven by her fascination with ancient cultures and bizarre natural phenomena. She started off her writing career with romance novels, now published by Mira. But in 1996 she switched to writing thrillers with her novel Harvest, inspired by the anger she felt about the illegal trade in human organs. It was her first New York Times bestseller. Since then she has become an internationally bestselling author of crime novels, and her thriller series starring Boston detective Jane Rizzoli and medical examiner Maura Isles is the basis for the hit television series “Rizzoli & isles.” She lives with her husband in Maine. For more information on Tess Gerritsen and her novels, visit her website.