This is the 11th in the Rizzoli and Isles series and it has been quite some time between me reading the 10th and this one. During that time I have been watching the TV series of the same name and I think it has spoiled the books for me. In the first 10 books in the series I had very firm impressions in my mind as to who the characters were, what they looked like, how they reacted, what drove them etc but since watching the TV series where the characters I had in my head were totally obliterated by the one-dimensional plastic acting I have lost my original “cast” in my imagination.
That said, I thought the plot and the unfolding action in this one was up to its usual standards and I was hooked from word one.
The book opens with a chapter in the first person narrative by a person unknown (to begin with) about a safari in Botswana. It then flips to Boston and a murder scene back in the third person narrative of the other books. The murder victim is a known hunter who specialises in taxidermy, and he has been strung up and gutted in the manner of a hunted deer. As with other crime thrillers the body count soon mounts up and Rizzoli and Isles fight their way through the investigation alongside police in neighbouring precincts and out of state, some of whom are not particularly cooperative and who actively try to sabotage the outcome.
Every so often the text is peppered with more from the Botswana story and we are left scratching our heads as to how the two bits fit together until right at the end.
My overall impression?
Aside from the conflicting mental images I had about the characters, I loved this book. The plot rolls along nicely, there are no big leaps where the reader is left wondering “eh?” and the sensory details about the landscape and camp in Botswana are incredible.
Who are the main characters?
The main characters are Detective Jane Rizzoli and the state Medical Examiner Maura Isles. Obviously there are the murder victims too, and in this case I would argue that Africa itself could be counted as a character because it pervade much of this story.
Where is it set?
The main part of the story is set in Boston, but the flashback chapters are set in Botswana.
Will I read the next in the series?
Yes I will. I have stuck with this very believable partnership for the past 11 books and they are getting better and better each new one I read. I like Tess Gerritsen’s style of writing and it is a joy to read her books.
Would I recommend it to my friends?
I would. It would be helpful if you could start at the beginning but it doesn’t matter so much because anything that is pertinent to the current story from the past is explained, but you would get a richer experience from it if you know the complete back-story so far.
Just going back to the TV series thing, I realise that when books are put on film either for TV or the cinema certain things do have to change. That’s fine with me, and I’m not saying that the differences between the characters in the books and on the screen are distracting because they’re not, it’s just that if you are familiar with the screen versions before reading the novel versions then you will find them quite different in many ways.
Without giving away any spoilers, for example, Dr Maura Isles is portrayed on screen as a bit of a ditzy blonde, who is very particular and fussy but in the book she is a cool, calm and collected woman who likes to have her hair short and black, and she likes to dress in dark sombre clothes. Just by the way they dress and their attitude to their clothing tells you a lot about their characters and just how different from each other they are in the two versions.
The biggest thing for me (apart from Dr Isles’ persona) was that the Detective Frost I envisaged before I saw him looked like Detective Korsak on screen, and the Detective Korsak I envisaged before is more like the Lieutenant Kavanagh from the screen. You can see why I got confused!
There are plenty more differences but to tell you about those would actually give the game away so I won’t do that here. As I said, they won’t spoil the books for you if you’ve seen the TV series but just be warned that they are quite different.
Looking forward to Rizzoli and Isles 12 now. Come on Tess, hurry up and get it finished!!