Monday, August 15, 2011

Book Review: The Silent Girl by Tess Gerritsen

Every crime scene tells a story. Some keep you awake at night. Others haunt your dreams. The grisly display homicide cop Jane Rizzoli finds in Boston's Chinatown will do both.

In the murky shadows of an alley lies a female's severed hand. On the tenement rooftop above is the corpse belonging to that hand, a red-haired woman dressed all in black, her head nearly severed. Two strands of silver hair -- not human -- cling to her body. They are Rizzoli's only clues, but they're enough for her and medical examiner Maura Isles to make the startling discovery: that this violent death had a chilling prequel.

Nineteen years earlier, a horrifying murder-suicide in a Chinatown restaurant left five people dead. But one woman connected to that massacre is still alive: a mysterious martial arts master who knows a secret she dares not tell, a secret that lives and breathes in the shadows of Chinatown. A secret that may not even be human. Now she's the target of someone, or something, deeply and relentlessly evil.

Cracking a crime resonating with bone-chilling echoes of an ancient Chinese legend, Rizzoli and Isles must outwit an unseen enemy with centuries of cunning -- and a swift, avenging blade. (From the dust jacket.)
Gerritsen's Rizzoli & Isles series is pretty new to me. I downloaded The Surgeon onto my nook during the hiatus and soon got the attention of my local librarian after checking out the rest. Why it took me so long to discover that is a mystery as I read Gravity several years ago after picking it up at a library book sale and liked it well enough to not deter me from ever reading her again. Starting with The Surgeon, this has been a consistently well-written series and I have enjoyed reading each one. The Silent Girl fits into the world of Jane Rizzoli just as well as the others and it delves into the connections between Boston's Chinatown, missing teenage girls and a tragedy that still haunts the city.

I liked how Gerritsen used the superstitious and mysterious nature of the Chinese people and their culture to frame the whodunit in The Silent Girl. She does that well, I think, Gerritsen: using a culture or even supernatural elements to keep Rizzoli & Isles on their toes. Here, Rizzoli begins truly wondering whether or not Sun Wukong, the Monkey King, is actually running around Boston, exacting vengeance while simultaneously protecting her from harm. Gerritsen adds a new recurring character, a Chinese detective named Johnny Tam, to the mix and I hope he's here to stay. He's a good reminder to Jane of how hard she had to work to fit in to the police department.

Also, the subplot of Rizzoli's family continues to entertain me. Watching Jane cope with two parents who are trying to live their second childhoods gives a realistic touch to a fictional character. I am just waiting for Jane to knock Frankie on his butt once and for all. Maybe in the next book?

Other opinions:
Geeky Blogger's Book Blog
Night Owl Suspense

Tess Gerritsen's website

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