The Keepsake, by Tess Gerritsen

>> Friday, June 07, 2013

TITLE: The Keepsake
AUTHOR: Tess Gerritsen

PAGES: 349
PUBLISHER: Ballantine

SETTING: Contemporary US
TYPE: Mystery / Thriller
SERIES: 7th in the Rizzoli / Isles series

For untold years, the perfectly preserved mummy had lain forgotten in the dusty basement of Boston’s Crispin Museum. Dubbed “Madam X,” the recently rediscovered mummy is, to all appearances, an ancient Egyptian artifact. But medical examiner Maura Isles discovers a macabre message hidden within the corpse–horrifying proof that this “centuries-old” relic is instead a modern-day murder victim. When the grisly remains of two other women are found, it becomes clear to Maura and Boston homicide detective Jane Rizzoli that a maniac is at large. Now Maura and Jane must unravel a murderer’s twisted endgame before the Archaeology Killer adds another chilling artifact to his monstrous collection.
Maura's involvement in the case of 'Madam X'starts out as purely personal interest. A small Boston museum have recently discovered a mysterious mummy among their extensive and disorganised stock, and they have arranged to have it scanned to find out more about it (the attendant publicity will also be very welcome). Maura has been invited out of professional courtesy, as it's an exciting case. And when the scan finds evidence the mummified body might not be as old as initially thought, having her there turns out to be quite practical.

It turns out the mummy is not the only grisly object in the museum's stores, and it quickly becomes clear the killer Maura and her friend, Detective Jane Rizzoli, are after is one sick person, and that he's got some sort of special interest in Dr. Josephine Pulcillo, a young woman who works for the museum.

What first struck me when I started this was that it felt a bit too similar to The Mephisto Club, starting with a young woman on the run from a mysterious monster and unable to ask for help from the police, and the ties to some sort of ancient culture and mystery. But then Gerritsen won me over. The investigation itself, the painstaking following of the crumbs and the clever deductions were fun, and very, very satisfying. And even though it was extremely icky, the details of the case, with its focus on the traditions of body preservation in different cultures, were just fascinating.

The character stuff was a bit of a mixed bag. I really liked seeing more of Jane's partner, Barry Frost, and I hope we get more of him in future books, because he's such a nice guy that I want good things for him. Jane is as clever as ever, but I find her a teeny bit boring now. As for Maura, I really don’t like the direction Gerritsen is taking her personal life. It’s very frustrating, because it’s so blind and stupid, and neither of them, she and her priest lover, are acting well. There’s no suspense, because it’s obvious things won’t turn out well, and I like Maura, so I don’t want her to end up with this hypocrite. It does look like Gerritsen might have realised this is a total dead-end narratively, so I’m hoping the next one moves away from this.



Wendy 7 June 2013 at 17:20  

I remember neither of my sisters were crazy about this one - but I really liked it. Probably because The Mephisto Club was a drag for me - The Keepsake felt more "return to form."

I adore Barry Frost. Gerritsen is still keeping him on the fringe a bit - but we do get more of him in The Silent Girl.....

Rosario 8 June 2013 at 07:16  

So you were just grateful the Mephisto Club idiots weren't poking their noses in everything any more? :) For me it wasn't quite a return to form, but definitely like an improvement. I didn't feel Gerritsen really got back to it until Ice Cold.

I love Barry as well, so glad to hear we see more of him!

Wendy 9 June 2013 at 04:34  

Oh man, your comment totally brought it back for me - that was it EXACTLY! I had this "fear" that after The Mephisto Club that those morons were going to be a permanent fixture in the series. So yeah, The Keepsake was a major relief :)

Rosario 9 June 2013 at 09:04  

They do somewhat come back in Ice Cold, though, don't they? If I interpreted that ending correctly, that is. Anyway, I'm posting the review of that one in the next few days.

Wendy 11 June 2013 at 02:38  

Rosario: Yeah, they kinda do - but they weren't overly obnoxious. I can deal with Whats-His-Face when it's just him - just so long as he doesn't bring The Mephisto Club Goon Squad along. Or, you know, Jane is allowed to start using them as target practice :)

Rosario 11 June 2013 at 17:14  

Oh, Whats-His-Face didn't really bother me throughout most of the book. His private jet was awfully convenient, but mostly, anything that makes Daniel Brophy miserable is ok with me (I really, really don't like him!). It was the end that bothered me. Ok, this might be a bit spoilerish, so...


It's the very last scene that bothered me, the one revealing what happens to that wonderful boy who helps Maura. He'd been through so much misery that I wanted a good life for him, but then it turns out he'll be going with Whats-His-Face and Lily Saul to this mysterious school. I just went uh-oh, they're drafting the poor child into the Mephisto Club!

Wendy 11 June 2013 at 20:55  

I can't remember if Wonderful Boy shows up in The Silent Girl - but he's definitely in Last To Die. He's got issues (I mean, obviously) - but I can't recall too much warping by TMC :) So the kid might turn out OK - assuming he can work past his issues from Ice Cold - which were just seriously messed up.

Rosario 12 June 2013 at 07:21  

Very good to know we see more of him, I'm trying to go slowly with the rest of the series, but realistically, I'll probably finish it in the next couple of months!

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